The COVID-19 vaccine is coming to a place near you.
Thanks to a partnership between Vidant Bertie Hospital, the West Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association and community leaders, vaccines will be available in four different locations on Saturday, April 17.
Those locations will include West Bertie Elementary School in Kelford, the former C.G. White School in Powellsville, the new Blue Jay Recreation Center in Indian Woods and the Windsor Community Building.
“As part of our mission to improve the health and well-being of the people of Eastern North Carolina, we wanted to make the vaccine available in a variety of places,” Vidant Bertie Hospital President Brian Harvill said.
Harvill said the hospital had held weekly clinics at its site, but could tell there were portions of the county – especially minorities and those in outlying communities – who were being underserved.
Harvill was in contact with Bertie County Commissioner Ronald D. Wesson, who helped set up the partnership.
“The partnership with the West Roanoke Association helps ensure we’re doing what we need to,” Harvill said. “It’s at least a start to help reverse the underserved numbers. We’re really excited about it, and hope to see a good showing at all four locations.”
Harvill did stress while the hospital and West Roanoke were targeting the underserved communities, the vaccines were for anyone who needs them in the county.
Windsor Town Commissioner Camille Rascoe, who is a retired educator, also signed on to help with the event. She said there were many parts of the clinics that were exciting.
“As a retired educator, Windsor commissioner and member of a church in the town of Windsor, I have a lot of ties to people in the community, so I was glad to be asked to be part of the group,” Rascoe said. “The most important thing to me is the clinics will reach out to sick and shut ins in the churches who may not have been able to get to the pervious clinics.”
Rascoe said churches had committed to using vans and buses to get sick and shut ins to the appropriate clinic site, which she felt was important. She also praised Vidant and the West Roanoke Association for working together and having the clinics spread throughout the county.
The first two clinics – C.G. White and Blue Jay – will open at 9 a.m. and will remain through noon. They will be followed by the clinics at West Bertie Elementary and the Windsor Community Building from 1-4 p.m.
Bertie County Commissioner Ron Roberson said he was excited about the planning and felt it would be excellent for Bertie County.
“It was very exciting to me when we began talking about it,” Roberson said. “With a county as large as our geographically, it seems good to me if we can take the vaccines to the community. Our minority numbers are lower than we’d hope as far as getting the vaccine, and hopefully this will help.”
The Rev. David E. Moore, who serves as Pastor of Indian Woods Missionary Baptist Church and Moderator of the West Roanoke Association, said the partnership was an excellent one.
“We want this collective effort between the hospital, community and churches to result in more people getting the vaccine,” Rev. Moore said. “We want people to put away the myths about the vaccine and get vaccinated. It’s important they know God has us.”
The excitement for the upcoming vaccination locations is in no way a knock on the work of Albemarle Regional Health Services and the Bertie County EMS workers, said Wesson.
“They have done – and continue to do – an excellent job at a central site,” Wesson said. “We can’t praise them enough for the work they have done in getting the county vaccinated. This is simply an opportunity to take the vaccine out into the community.”
Those who need the vaccine are encouraged to come out April 17.
“Everyone please come out,” Rev. Moore said. “If you know someone who hasn’t gotten a vaccine, bring them and come on out. We want a good turn out.”