Walk-up church drive helps 1,000 on Chicago’s West Side get vaccinated

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CHICAGO – A first-come-first-serve COVID-19 vaccination drive on the city’s West Side Sunday helped put the Johnson & Johnson shot into the arms of 1,000 residents.

For the second time in recent weeks, a gym at Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Church served as a COVID-19 vaccination site. The Austin-area church, Congressman Danny Davis’s office, Howard Brown Health and Near North Health Service pulled their resources together to open the clinic and guide those having trouble navigating the registration system. It’s part of an ongoing effort by health officials and community leaders to combat the virus in the city’s hardest-hit communities.

“I feel fine, no pain,” said vaccine recipient Felicia Carthans. “I didn’t want to take it, but my mom said she was going to take it and I had to come too.”

Sunday’s clinic was open to Chicago residents 18 and older – by walk-up or appointment. No insurance was required.

The move came as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, in addition to hospitalizations. Officials say the spike in confirmed cases prompted concerns of a third wave.

“We know that people really want to get to what they consider normal, but this is not a normal setting. This is not a normal time,” said Dr. James Miller, Chairman of Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Church. “So we have to be really vigilant and really make certain that we are doing all the things that we can do.”

Before Sunday, the church and health organizations had already vaccinated 4,000 people. Hundreds more waited Sunday, eager to cross the finish line.

“Sometimes you have to lead by example,” said vaccine recipient Willie Odom. “So I hope that by me doing it, some will follow.”

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