BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Health experts say the vaccine rollout marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic, as nearly 300,000 people have now received the shot here in Kern. But some groups are more receptive to taking the vaccine than others. The CDC says Black Americans are dying from the virus at nearly triple the rate of white Americans, but this community ranks among the lowest for willingness to take vaccines. Fewer than 3% of Black Kern residents have taken the shots so far.
State leaders partnered with a local church, the MLK CommUNITY Initiative and several hospitals to hold a vaccination clinic in Southeast Bakersfield
Pastor V.K. Jones: “On April 11th at the people’s Baptist Church, we will be having a vaccination clinic,” said Pastor V.K Jones, Minister for the People’s Missionary Baptist Church.
“We’re excited to partner with the governor. We’re excited to partner with Kaiser, Dignity and Adventist,” said Arleana Waller, the Founder and CEO of the MLK CommUNITY Initiative. “This is a massive event. One thousand single shots. One time you get your shot, it’s done.”
Organizers hope to focus on vaccinating more African-Americans. Health experts say many communities of color face unique health challenges, making them more vulnerable to serious illness or death from the virus.
“There’s a lot of underlying issues,” said Waller. “Heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, that are typical in our community.”
Many African-Americans say they don’t trust the vaccines. Meanwhile, local leaders urge Kern residents to take the shot.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to ensure that you don’t end up killing yourself, or allowing this virus to kill somebody you love,” said Pastor Jones.
If you want to get your shot at The People’s Baptist Church, event organizers say you can either walk up or drive through. That’s April 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.