Mt. Olivet Baptist Church opens as COVID-19 vaccination site in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Mt. Olivet Baptist Church opened as a COVID-19 vaccination site Monday.

It’s among more than 300 churches and cultural centers in New York that volunteered through the Vaccine Equity Task Force.

The goal is to ensure communities of color are getting the vaccine at the same rate as other communities.

“When it comes to this vaccine, access has to be fair all across the board,” said Gov. Cuomo said Sunday. “We’re working with 300 churches and public housing authorities all across the state.”

“It’s a start for a long journey that we’re all on,” says Rev. Dr. Ricky Harvey of Mount Olivet Baptist Church.

Harvey says the first doses here are about getting the shots into the arms of those who need it the most. 

“From the response that we’ve gotten, the energy, the enthusiasm, the people have just responded wonderfully,” he says.

And those people of all different stripes, but mostly over the age of 65; also, essential workers. The total number of doses administered was over 250, the supply coming in from Albany Sunday night. Harvey saying in terms of equity, it’s a first-come, first-serve opportunity. 

“This was a process, it’s reachable and it’s less complicated and people were able to move in and move out,” he says.

“Come and get the vaccine so we’re all safe,” says senior Mary Lou Carlson, who got the vaccine with her husband Bill. They say to their peer group there is nothing to fear and did it to protect those they interact with. 

“If you don’t look at it, you won’t even know it’s happening,” laughs Bill.

“Well for us because we’re elderly certainly and for all of the family around us and people that we meet and greet,” adds Mary Lou.

74-year-old Lonnie Day works at two churches. He got the COVID vaccine and says he did it primarily to keep his family safe.

“Oh you don’t feel a thing, no. My wife goes ‘well take me to the same person you went to’. And I said ‘no, everybody’s a professional in there’… You feel it go in just a little bit and it’s done,” says Day.

Harvey is hoping by using places like churches in a neighborhood, and if all stays stocked up, New York State can hit a million vaccinations in the next 100 days. 

“We look forward to more vaccines coming from the Governor’s office into our community into smaller venues like this,” says Harvey.

Everyone who came to the church Monday will be back in three weeks’ time for their second dose of the vaccine. 

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