By Josephine Reid
MEMPHIS, TN — With the efforts that have been put forth to get people and their children vaccinated for COVID-19, we often forget the difficulty some may have just reaching a vaccination site. The tornadoes close to Memphis, Tennessee, and the surrounding storm that caused several vaccination sites to be shut down made it even more apparent how much of a role accessibility plays in getting entire families vaccinated, including 5-to-11-year-olds.
Despite the severe storm that left the surrounding Memphis neighborhoods without power, many parents still came out to get their children vaccinated at the W. Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine Event. More than 80 adults also received vaccinations. Health screenings were conducted, and trusted Black doctors and COVID survivors shared information with attendees. Nearly 400 attended the event throughout the day.
The free event, hosted by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Memphis Metro Graduate Chapters in conjunction with the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute made it possible to make the COVID vaccine, booster shot, and children’s vaccine readily available to the surrounding Memphis area. A panel of doctors at the event answered questions and dispelled myths, giving residents a chance to get the facts before making the decision to get vaccinated.
Dr. LaTonya Washington, W. Montague Cobb Institute Physician and Vice President & Chief Medical Officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, was a part of the panel. “Events like this are very instrumental in our community; we know that people want to hear from physicians, nurses, and frontline workers who are taking care of patients who have COVID-19, and they want to make sure that the vaccine is safe and effective—and that’s a part of the information we’re providing here today, also with some pertinent health-related topics; we’ll be able to answer questions that anyone that may attend the event today may have,” said Dr. Washington.
There were numerous examples at the Memphis event of the power of accurate information. A mom and son made their way straight to the 5-to-11-year-old vaccination area and were able to ask questions in a safe space before the young boy received his vaccine. A little girl danced with the Memphis Redbirds mascot, who cheered her up before receiving her vaccine. A mom, dad, and daughter rushed with their six-year-old directly to the vaccine area.
These and many other stories shed light on the importance of reaching the community where they are.
“I think we have to learn how to live with COVID-19. The way to ensure that you’re safe and protected is to get vaccinated. We can do this! Getting this COVID vaccine is something that’s going to help us continue to be able to live with this new normalcy,” said Dr. Washington.
To find out more about the schedule for the upcoming Cobb Institute/NMA Stay Well Community Health Fair events, visit Stay Well Community Health Fairs.
To learn more about COVID vaccines, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.
Josephine Reid is a member of the Public Relations Team at Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the COBB Institute.