Community outreach event gets more people vaccinated in east Gainesville

Community outreach event gets more people vaccinated in east Gainesville
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A community outreach event got more people vaccinated today in east Gainesville.

Community leaders said they’ve done many of these events before, but with health now a growing priority, they decided to partner with UF Health to offer free health screenings and vaccinations.

The Thompson family was just one of many who came to get their vaccines for a shot at returning to normal.

“Now I don’t have to worry about COVID as much. It’s a lifesaver,” said 14-year-old, Jada Thompson.

Jada’s father, Terrah Thompson, said being a dialysis patient, it’s important to him to get his whole family vaccinated.

“I lost a best friend of mine to COVID at the beginning of the pandemic, so I’m teaching my children that we have to hold ourselves accountable,” he said.

The outreach event offered more than just shots.

Community members were able to get free health screenings, advice on CPR, pick up free food from the farmers market, and even find a job.

“There’s a job fair, they’re hiring on the spot today. That’s phenomenal,” said Karl Anderson, a senior pastor with Upper Room Ministries.

Anderson added that he feels the health component to these outreach events has been a positive thing.

“We just stretched out our hands, and reached out to our family and friends, and church partners, and we were able to get a boatload of folks vaccinated in our community.”

One UF Health official said her biggest focus is building confidence in the vaccine.

“We really think there are some myths that we need to dispel,” said Linda Cottler, Director of Health Street, a community engagement program at UF. “People just really need to hear from us and hear from ambassadors, people like them, about the safety about the vaccine and why it’s so important.”

Cottler said she wants to remind people that any short-term side effects from the vaccine are far better than getting COVID-19.

Tomorrow afternoon, Alachua county and Gainesville city leaders are set to meet. They plan on discussing the possibility of a new health clinic in east Gainesville.

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