The Denver Park Hill Church began conducting COVID-19 vaccinations in the African American and Latino community under the direction of Dr. Erynn M. Burks in late January of 2021. When asked about the purpose of the vaccination efforts Dr. Burks stated, “It is incumbent on us as Christians to step forward and help underserved communities, particularly communities of color, that have been ravaged by the pandemic. We know from the data that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to experience adverse outcomes or death as a result of the coronavirus, and we have an opportunity to ease that burden through mass vaccinations.”
The church is making good use of Facebook to advertise each vaccine event and has established a vaccination line specifically for making appointments. As a church, the members set out to remind the community that they are seen and that they will not be left out of the state’s vaccination efforts. As such, community members are assisted by volunteers and staff to schedule their appointments and have the opportunity to ask questions about clinic logistics and the vaccine itself. Community members continually express how grateful they are for the help and the ease of the scheduling process.
On February 6, Governor Jared Polis visited the site and spoke with the patients in attendance. While some spoke with him regarding the need for a site like this in the community, others took the opportunity to applaud the event as a whole and to publicly acknowledge the staff and volunteers. Pastor David James spoke to Governor Polis specifically about the difficulty many older Coloradans are facing securing a place in line to receive the vaccine. Pastor James, as well as other community members, voiced concerns about the vaccine registration portals being online, as some do not have access to internet or are not as computer literate as their younger counterparts.
Dr. Burks addressed the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on Black and Latino populations with the Governor Polis, as well as the need to accelerate vaccination efforts, and the need to expand the eligibility criteria to include those under 70 years of age in communities of color in order to achieve equitable distribution of the vaccine. In response, the governor expressed his continued commitment to partnering with community organizations to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine in Black and Brown communities.
Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod also visited the site in February, presenting another opportunity to advocate for communities of color, the impoverished, and elderly. The site has administered over 2,000 vaccinations to date.
This endeavor required the full support of the church to make it successful. Thank you to the many staff, volunteers, and contributors who are involved in this ministry of helping save the lives of our neighbors.
Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”