Community vaccination event at St. James Catholic Church set for Sunday

·3 min read

Jun. 11—TUPELO — A volunteer group is hosting a vaccination event Sunday with the goal of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates among members of the local Hispanic community.

The Northeast MS Coalition Against COVID-19 and St. James Catholic Church will host a mobile vaccination event Sunday, June 13, after Spanish Mass at St. James Catholic Church in Tupelo from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Vaccinations are open to anyone, and no pre-registration is required.

The goal is to administer roughly 50 doses of coronavirus vaccine. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available. Children aged 12 and up can also be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine is free, and bilingual volunteers will be available at each station. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the site.

The Northeast MS Coalition Against COVID-19 will return to St. James in July to deliver the second doses of each vaccine.

The event is part of the coalition's continued efforts to vaccinate people throughout Northeast Mississippi. Previous efforts served rural and predominantly African-American populations. Dr. Vernon Rayford, one of the coalition leaders, said they reached out to the Hispanic Ministry at St. James to fill a need for vaccinations in the Spanish-speaking community.

"We know, in terms of COVID, we're not going to be back to normal unless every group can get vaccinated and get protected," Rayford said.

Hispanic Ministry coordinator Raquel Thompson has strived to ensure members within the Spanish-speaking community, who often face language barriers, are getting vaccinated. She has personally driven people as far as Columbus and Oxford to receive a vaccination at the state-run drive-through sites to help her parishioners who don't speak English feel more comfortable.

Thompson is encouraging Spanish speakers who have been reluctant to get vaccinated to take advantage of Sunday's vaccination event.

"I encourage the community to come. It's great that (The Northeast MS Coalition Against COVID-19) does that so that we don't have to go to those sites. They're coming to you, so that's a blessing," Thompson said.

Thompson also encourages parents, especially families with vulnerable relatives or younger children, to bring their children to the event to receive the vaccine.

The Northeast MS Coalition Against COVID-19's mobile vaccinations are part of a strategy to provide as many routes to vaccination as possible. Rayford said their ability to come to different communities and be flexible, such as delivering vaccines on the weekends and to smaller places.

While they've seen a difference, Rayford said "we have a lot more work ahead of us." He encouraged anyone who'd like to volunteer to help with the project to do so.

The more people willing to help others get vaccinated, he said, the faster the world can finally return to normal.

"We all will have to evolve to make sure that we are still providing the vaccines to people," Rayford said. "We could all get back to normal, but it's going to take the heavy lifting, it's going to take the efforts of a group like the Northeast MS Coalition and other groups to really make sure other people are taking advantage of these very, very effective and safe vaccines."

danny.mcarthur@djournal.com

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