ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Across the nation and here in Maryland, communities of color have been disproportionally affected by the coronavirus. Now in Montgomery County, the county government partnered with faith leaders to try to bring pre-registration efforts to residents right in their own community. The first large-scale county sanctioned preregistration COVID vaccine clinic was held on Saturday afternoon at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville, Md.
Diane Vu is the director of the Office of Community Partnerships for the county. She explained that County Executive Marc Elrich has called for all county agencies to ensure that they are taking an equitable approach to vaccine distribution.
“What we’re trying to do is go into the community and meet communities where they are and work through their trusted messengers and work through their trusted spaces,” Vu explained. “So that the faith community leaders are really encouraging their networks to get vaccinated and pre-register when it’s their time to do so.”
Dorene George-Coleman and her husband, Wendell, said that they had exhausted every other option to get a vaccine and were grateful for the preregistration event, especially as the county recently moved into vaccination phase 1C.
“People of color, we are the ones that have diabetes and the heart disease so it’s really important that we get vaccinated,” Dorene George-Coleman said. Her husband agreed and explained that he has dealt with a number of health-related issues.
“It’s very important that other people with the health problems come out today and get registered,” Wendell Coleman said. “Really we need this because we’re the ones who are going to be affected the most.”
While faith leaders have had to change how they worship, the pandemic has opened new doors for a church in Rockville to help out in their community in ways that they didn’t expect.
Rev. Barry Moultrie is the youth and young adult pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. He explained that while churches have had to cease in-person services, their work in the community has not followed suit.
“I think this has been a great opportunity to show folks the viability of the church, the relevance of the church in this era,” Rev. Moultrie said. “We’re feeding people that are hungry, we are testing people for COVID, and now we’re registering people.”
Rev. Moultrie also said that his church is now lobbying to be a vaccine site. He stressed that he wanted people to be able to get vaccinated in the neighbourhood where they live.
The county is planning on holding more pre-registration events which will be announced in the future. Other information can be found on the county website.