Reaching a Community with One of the Lowest Vaccination Rates

May 27, 2021

The Salvation Army was proud to recently partner with Howard Brown Health and Meridian Health to host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center in Englewood.

The health care and insurance providers offered first dose Moderna vaccines to residents of Englewood and surrounding neighborhoods. The two organizations chose the Red Shield Center for its accessibility, both by public transportation and on foot.

“This works out great as we want to bring these lifesaving vaccines to a central location, for those who need them the most,” said James Kiamos, Meridian Plan President and CEO for Illinois. “All of our partners care about the community immensely. We are aligned with the same purpose in mind – that this event will allow people to get the necessary care and vital resources they need.”

“I think when the pandemic started, there were barriers to getting tested,” said Layzon Lehmann, Howard Brown Health COVID Operations Manager for the Northern Region. “Coming together, we’re trying to ensure this is not a barrier. Simply getting people where they are is one of our main models. Meeting people where they are mentally and physically.”

Englewood has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“Having been in the community so long, I know that many of our residents are reluctant,” said Capt. Corey Hughes, Corps Officer for The Salvation Army Red Shield Center. “The greatest impact, I think, would be to have access to people that cannot get to other locations and to promote it to those who may be a little bit reluctant to take the vaccine.”

One of those individuals was Willie Wilson. He lives down the street from the Red Shield Center. He and his little brother walked in to the vaccination clinic. “I had a friend tell me to come up here,” Wilson said. “He said by the time I take it, it could save my life.”

Wilson said he was hesitant about getting the vaccine after the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson shot due to a rare potential side effect. “I heard about this, this one was safer,” Wilson said.

He said he plans to tell his friends and neighbors that he got the vaccine. “I’ll show them,” Wilson said. “I’ll do that today. If I can do it, you can do it.”       

In addition to the potentially life-saving vaccine, members of the community received information about other programs and resources available at the Red Shield Center, including food, emergency assistance, and COVID relief in the form of monetary grants.

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