OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahomans wait anxiously for their COVID-19 vaccine, 300 more received one dose in an Oklahoma City church on Thursday.
It’s the result of a partnership between community health care center Variety Care, Britton Christian Church and the Urban League.
“I’ve been watching the portal daily – no appointments – and it’s frustrating,” said Richard Alltizer, who received his first dose of the vaccine.
Alltizer was diagnosed with polio at the age of 5 – and now the COVID-19 pandemic has left him feeling the impact of isolation once again.
But hope came when a friend called Alltizer, telling him his church – Britton Christian – had 300 spots in a vaccination pod for those age 65 and over.
“He said ‘would you be interested’ and I said ‘yes’ and here we are,” Alltizer said.
For others – the decision wasn’t so easy.
“I wasn’t going to get the shot until last week,” said Gwen Walker. “I wasn’t getting it.”
When Walker’s pastor at emailed her saying Britton Christian Church would be hosting a vaccine pod – it’s the last place she’d imagine she’d be on Thursday.
She says the Tuskegee experiment is why she didn’t trust it.
The 40-year government study began in the 1930s.
African American farmers with syphilis were told they would get free medical care.
Instead, they were really left untreated so scientists could study the long-term effects of the disease.
To this day – that human experiment has made many Black Americans wary of vaccines, especially when the government is involved.
“We do not believe what we’re told,” Walker said.
But then Gwen’s son got COVID – and a phone call with a relative in the medical field changed everything.
“Tommy said, ‘Gwen, you’ve got to get the shot, we can’t be stupid old people,'” said Walker.
So when she learned her church had teamed up with Variety Care and the Urban League to administer doses of the Moderna vaccine, Gwen knew it was time to sign up.
She and others who’ve been trying to set up appointments through the state call this vaccine pod a source of relief.
“I’m just thankful that I got it and hopefully we can get everyone vaccinated during the next six months or so and we can move back to some degree of normalcy – whatever that is,” Alltizer said.
Those vaccinated will return in February for their second shot. However, there’s no word yet on another pod like this from Variety Care.