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This Kansas City Church Is Newest Vaccination Site For At-Risk People And Those Over 65

Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Truman Medical Center registered nurse Raquel Garcia administers the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to 80-year-old Virginia Davis at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday.

The first Kansas Citians who are not healthcare workers or first responders were able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination Tuesday at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Older and at-risk Kansas City residents lined up Tuesday to receive the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to an outreach effort by Truman Medical Center and University Health.

“It’s one great thing to come to the community rather than the community having to go to the hospital,” said Rev. John Modest Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.

TMC’s mobile unit was parked outside the church’s community center where a nurse was meticulously preparing syringes with the vaccine, which were then delivered to waiting nurses and vaccine recipients inside the church’s community center.

Members of Miles’ congregation and others in the surrounding neighborhood were made aware of the opportunity as part of the phase 1B, tier 2 rollout of the vaccine. After receiving the vaccine, recipients were given a certificate to return on Feb. 16 for their booster shot.

Niki Donawa, the chief community relations officer at TMC, said this was an opportunity to assist at-risk and older residents who might have trouble signing up or are disadvantaged and might even be afraid to go to the hospital.

“We know that people that live in the zip codes that have been disproportionately affected by this disease,” said Donawa. “And we, we came out to reach them.”

75-year-old Grace Crain said she was initially reluctant to get the shot.

Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Truman Medical Center Cath Lab Manager Pam Hilbert-Misner prepares a dose of the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning in a mobile lab parked outside Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.

“I was a little hesitant at first, but then I knew it was something I had to do,” Crane said. “And then I got excited because of so much of the virus going around.”

“It was a blessing to be able to find out they were doing it through the church. It was much easier,” she added.

UPS customer counter associate Martin Spain, a Type II diabetic, was also among the steady stream of people coming through the doors. He sat at one of several tables positioned inside the community center where nurses were administering the dosage.

“I feel like a lot of pressure has been off my shoulders now,” he told reporters. “I’m happy. I don’t know if you can tell (beneath this mask), but I’m smiling.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas said the vaccination effort is about how institutions broaden their reach and find ways to get the vaccine out.

“This isn’t about an opportunity at one church or with one hospital,” he said. “It’s about opportunities for community and for a region.”

Rev. Miles echoed the mayor’s comments and praised the vaccination effort.

“So many people are dying,” Miles said. “We’ve lost thousands and thousands and thousands of people. By Truman sharing with us, think of the thousands of lives that we will save--the thousands of lives that will not pass on to the other side.”

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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