When Sandy Bruno couldn't find an open appointment anywhere near her home, she was delighted to hear that her church had the solution. Sandy instantly signed up for Kingdom Fellowship AME's new vaccination clinic. After receiving the shot, her fear of contracting COVID subsided, and she was ready to resume her active life.
Before COVID, “BC” as she calls it, Sandy Bruno was an active senior. She enjoyed going to museums, movies, and parks. But after the global pandemic sent everyone into shelter-in-place, the frustration of being isolated hit her hard. On top of that, her preexisting condition made it even more dangerous for her to go in public and expose herself to a potentially deadly virus.
As soon as Sandy heard about the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, she was eager to get it. However, each time she went online to find an appointment for one nearby, there were none available. “When they first started talking about people will be able to get the vaccine, they had all these websites and places that you can go, and I could never get an appointment,” Sandy recalled. “And I was supposed to be one of the people they were trying to get vaccinated because of my preexisting medical condition. It seems as if they just made it difficult for some people.” Sandy was not alone.
Americans across the country trying to get vaccinated found themselves in a “vaccine desert.” Vaccine deserts are neighborhoods with low vaccination rates due to limited access. They’re defined as areas where there is a “more than 15-minute drive to the closest COVID-19 vaccination site.” Cities and their outlying suburbs with unreliable public transportation exacerbate the problem of accessibility. Yet limited access is not the only problem.
The U.S. federal government identified several factors leading to the low rates of those vaccinated in communities of color, including a lack of transportation, time, and vaccine site locations. Beyond limited access and skepticism, misinformation and lack of health literacy have contributed to low rates in certain areas.
Kingdom Fellowship's vaccination clinic began as an answer to all these gaps, offering free vaccinations to the Metro-Baltimore community. Since the clinic started, Reverend Russell St. Bernard reports that they have vaccinated over 1,800 people as of December 2021. Area residents can get their first, second, and third dose or booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna for no cost. Individuals can register for the clinic's open dates and times which are listed on Kingdom Fellowship’s website and walk-ups are welcomed.
The clinic offers not only peace of mind to Silver Spring, Maryland residents like Sandy, who are concerned about the risk of contracting COVID, but also reassurance that the vaccine is safe. By setting up clinics, churches like Kingdom Fellowship have helped destigmatize the vaccine. For Sandy, getting vaccinated was an easy decision - and she's not alone. Thousands of people have already taken advantage of similar church clinics around the country. Sandy is healthy and back worshipping with her faith community. And she is forever grateful.
By donating to Kingdom Fellowship AME, you are joining the most generous community of givers in the world — one that finds joy in closing the vaccination gap and helping their neighbors return to a safe, active, and fulfilling life.