BELOIT — While waiting for her turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday morning, Beloit resident Barbara Gulbranson was excited to be able to return to in-person church services also.
Gulbranson, a member of New Zion Baptist Church, was ready to get vaccinated during a pop-up clinic event inside the place of worship.
“I’m feeling good about getting it. I’m a little nervous, but I know that it’s something that I have to do,” Gulbranson said.
The “Victory Through Vaccination” event was held over the weekend, with two pop-up vaccine clinics offered at the church on Saturday and Sunday. The Moderna vaccine doses were administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
HealthNet of Rock County CEO Ian Hedges said the nonprofit and its community partners organized the vaccine clinic in an effort to help ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.
Hedges said they had roughly 700 doses available, and he anticipated about 400 people came out to get vaccinated over the entire weekend. Any leftover doses will be administered at HealthNet’s main site in Janesville, he said.
The goal of the free vaccine clinic at the church was to give residents an easy and convenient chance to get vaccinated, Hedges said.
HealthNet of Rock County has been meeting with various community groups to encourage residents to get vaccinated and offer insight into how the process works, Hedges said.
Spanish translators were present at the church to help facilitate communication.
Hedges added that the quicker more people can get the vaccine, the more quickly the COVID-19 pandemic will end.
“When everyone is vaccinated, everyone wins,” Hedges said.
Mary Fanning-Penny, CEO of United Way Blackhawk Region, volunteered at the clinic checking residents in for appointments.
She said since communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, equitable distribution is very important. Local figures have indicated while about 31% of White residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine, only about 12% of Black residents have received the vaccine.
“It means the world to me. It’s important that we reach as many people as possible to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine,” Fanning-Penny said. “I think it’s just touching to see the community turning out.”
Gulbranson said she heard about the vaccine clinic from her sister and decided to come out to the church.
As vaccinations continue to be administered worldwide, Gulbranson said she is also looking forward to going back to sporting events post-pandemic. She said her family has been tuning into mass virtually for the last year.
Beloit resident and Rock County Board member Shirley Williams was able to get the vaccine over the weekend at the church.
Williams said it was easy and convenient to get the vaccine Saturday, and she encourages other local residents to come out at future opportunities. She added there was no mound of paperwork to fill out and believes it is important for everyone to do their part.
“The hardest part was waiting in line for five minutes,” Williams said. “It was easy, seamless.”