HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly one week ago, the Rev. Bartholomew Banks tried and failed to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new COVID-19 vaccine initiative Sunday
- As part of the plan, 50 churches in seven cities will be distributing the vaccine
- 500 people were vaccinated at St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church Sunday
“And while I’m sitting in the church, on the front pew, feeling despondent that I could not get an appointment, I got a call from the mayor, asking if I’d allow my church to be a pilot site to get the vaccine into the community,” he recalled.
That’s how St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church became one of 50 places of worship that will be administering vaccines in Florida on Sunday morning.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the initiative, happening in seven cities statewide, on Sunday morning.
“It’s like an answered prayer,” Rev. Banks said.
Many were predominantly African American churches.
Health experts have expressed concern with high levels of mistrust in the vaccine among the black community, so the state’s initiative is a step in reversing that.
“People see others like themselves taking that first step. And these are the leaders of the community, so we couldn’t do it without them. All we’re doing is bringing vaccines. They did the hard part,” said Florida DOH Hillsborough County director Dr. Douglas Holt.
Altogether, 500 people got the vaccine at the church on Sunday morning.
City leaders, including Mayor Jane Castor, were in attendance as folks lined up to get the vaccine.
“[The church has] done a remarkable job of putting together a great event that will keep 500 of our elderly citizens safe from the COVID-19 virus,” Castor said.
It was a full circle moment for Reverend Banks — as he joined 500 members of his church in getting the vaccine.
“I said, ‘Wow, God is good. He’s a tremendous answer of prayers,'" Banks said.
Places of worship in seven cities in Florida, including Tampa, offered COVID-19 vaccines today. Many are predominantly African American churches - like St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. @BN9 pic.twitter.com/3E1L22KFuk
— Adria Iraheta (@AdriaIrahetaTV) January 10, 2021