Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist is set to distribute 500 vaccine doses Saturday to expand access to communities of color.
St. Paul Missionary Baptist also vaccinated 500 people in Jacksonville Friday.
Jared Moskowitz, director of the Division of Emergency Management, said the state has partnered with a total of 200 churches to vaccinate about 60,000 people across the state so far.
Ten churches will host vaccine events this weekend. Pastor Reginald Gundy at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist serves on the statewide COVID Vaccine Community Education & Engagement Taskforce.
He said the churches are each distributing about 500 vaccine doses.
“They have to trust whether it’s a white pastor, black pastor, another faith — people follow their leaders,” he said.
Since the churches are partnering with the state, they have to follow state guidelines for eligibility. Right now, that includes:
- Seniors 65 and up
- Health care personnel
- School employees, law enforcement officers, and firefighters 50 and up
“We must have clear instructions so we won’t have what we just had a few days ago because people are confused,” Pastor Gundy said, referring to the confusion at the federally-supported Gateway Mall vaccine location earlier this week.
He urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to follow federal guidelines to cut through the confusion.
“We can deal with politics at another time. Right now, we got to deal with saving people’s lives,” he told Action News Jax Robert Grant.
The purpose of the church vaccine sites is to increase vaccination in communities of color. According to the Florida Department of Health, 198,206 Black people have been vaccinated compared to 2,271,832 white people. Another 362,236 are listed as ‘unknown.’
To schedule a vaccine appointment with Mt. Bethel Baptist, call 904-764-8032. Another vaccine event is scheduled at North Jacksonville Baptist on Monday.