Texas A&M partners with Bryan church to hold community vaccination clinic Tuesday

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas A&M University partnered with a Bryan church Tuesday evening to organize another community vaccination clinic.

Medical experts say these small mobile clinics are key to reaching heard immunity in what is the second phase of vaccinating communities all over the country. Smaller, more intimate settings help people both with access and comfort when getting their shot.

That’s exactly why Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church Pastor Lawrence Hicks reached out to the Texas A&M Superfund Research Center to get it organized.

“I felt that as one of the leaders in the community, if leadership didn’t take an active part in getting the word out, then we could not expect those who are following us to get the word out,” Hicks said.

Access to the vaccine was why Emma Johnson showed up to get her first shot Tuesday.

“I’ve been wanting to take it, but every day I get off work it’s so late I just don’t have the time,” Johnson said. “Then I seen it on the news this morning, so I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to run over there at six and get the shot.’”

“Some people have a problem with transportation,” Hicks said. “I just believe we’re more comfortable with situations when we’re at home, to where we possibly walk over or drive over, or whatever the situation may be. This was my main objective - to put it where it was convenient for everyone in this area, as well as those areas all over Bryan.”

Texas A&M College of Medicine Interim Department Head of Primary Care and Population Health Sam Hogue says these community clinics are successful because groups they partner with are able to control when and where they operate. It goes a long way making people comfortable enough to come out for their shot.

“It’s directed by them,” Hogue said. “This is a good time for them. It’s after hours. People are off work, and they’ve got the opportunity to come and get vaccinated.”

Tuesday’s clinic wasn’t just about getting shots into arms. Medical experts were also present to talk to people about why getting a vaccine is a good idea.

“It’s the opportunity also to give information and answer questions and concerns because there is so much misinformation out on the internet and things that are being passed around on social media,” Texas A&M College of Medicine Director of Wellness Rob Carpenter said. “We’re just reinforcing that these vaccines are very well tested. They’re very safe, and in the end, it’s something that they can do not only to protect themselves and their families, but their communities, especially if it’s a community that is at particular risk for severe disease.”

“There are those who, for various reasons, some for valid reasons, in that they’ve had members of their family who have taken it and had reactions to it, are concerned,” Hicks said. “This is why I asked them to please come and get qualified answers. Go and get the information. Go and find out the truth. Find out what the answers to your questions are, and then vote your conviction. Make your decision based on solid information.”

Whether it’s administering one shot or changing one mind, the experts there say that’s a victory in the fight against COVID-19.

“Success for me is going out and delivering any amount of vaccines,” Texas A&M College of Medicine Interim Department Head of Primary Care and Population Health Sam Hogue said. “That engages the community. That gets acceptance, They know we’re here, so when we come back, there’s more opportunity for more buy-in and more community leadership.”

“That one individual who’s vaccinated has that ring of security and safety,” Carpenter said. “You’ve got to look at the other individuals that they encounter who maybe do still have a degree of reluctance. They not only are going to be safer to be around that individual, but they can act as internal advocates, and that’s really what that next phase is going to be. Actually working with not just leaders of a community, but individuals to be able to ring out from there, like ripples from a pebble dropped into a pond, where they can actually have that effect that is additive over time.”

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