By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — He was so frail. He was unable to walk and arrived by transport van in a wheelchair. As they prepared to lower the lift at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in the inner city of Knoxville, where he would receive his first of two vaccine shots, the lift broke.
That did not stop the doctors and nurses of the African American Clinicians Workgroup from making sure he got his shot. Upon hearing the broken lift would prevent him from coming into building; the leaders came out to the transport van and gave him his shot right in the parking lot.
During the 15 minute observation period they noticed he seemed sad. Upon inquiring, the elderly gentleman told them he had been
looking forward to getting the shot so he could be around people. He had been so lonely locked up in his house with no social interaction; the very thought of being able to laugh and talk with other people, if even for only a few minutes, had filled him with an anticipated joy that everyone who has attended the Faith Leaders Vaccine sites has experienced.
Indeed the second shot shot site provided by Dr. Keith Gray and the University of Tennessee hospital have been joyous occasions for both the volunteers and the people getting the shots. The volunteers who are a cross section of leadership from across organizations, are thankful to be able to serve the most vulnerable and the elderly express their relief and gratitude profusely to anyone who will listen.
Over 900 shots have been administered in clinics held in the inner city, specifically designed to put shots in the arms the most adversely affected : people of color.
As the Johnson and Johnson’s shot comes on the market and more vaccine is made available – Doctor Gray, working with partners Cynthia Finch, Keira Wyatt, and Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie; plans to be in the inner city every week making sure as Ms. Finch said on the steps of the Jacob Building, “We will not be left out”.