BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The MLK CommUNITY Initiative put together the first vaccination pop-up in Southeast Bakersfield on Sunday. Despite long lines, there was high energy at the vaccination site. Cheerleaders, a DJ, and a band came to cheer on those receiving the vaccine. Organizers say they hope to motivate the underserved community.
Dr. V.K. Jones is a Pastor at People’s Missionary Baptist in Southeast Bakersfield. The MLK CommUNITY Initiative organized a vaccine clinic at his church. Jones was the first to get vaccinated, but he brought his EpiPen just in case.
“I’m allergic to just about everything,” Jones said.
He says he gets allergies four times a year.
“Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall,” Jones said.
He’s also sensitive to most medications.
“It was a big issue for me to even be considering getting the vaccine,” Jones said. “The potential side effects do no outweigh the benefits of being vaccinated.”
Only around 16% of the black population in Kern County has gotten the vaccine. That’s less than half of the vaccinated white population.
“I think those numbers are going to improve,” Jones said. “Because they’re seeing people who look like them, who represent their community who are saying to them, this is something we need to do for ourselves.”
Arleana Waller is part of a larger effort to vaccinate those in underserved communities.
“The Governor’s office reached out and asked if this is something I’d be interested in doing,” said Arleana Waller, founder of MLK CommUNITY Initiative.
She’s specifically worked with residents in Southeast Bakersfield.
“Within few days we registered so many people, that’s letting me know that there’s a need out here,” Waller said. “There’s a transportation issue out here, and there’s a trust issue out here.”
The MLK Community Initiative partnered with Adventist, Dignity, and Kaiser Permanente to organize the pop-up clinic. They administered 1,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“I truly believe the vaccine can help people, and despite the side effects I think it’s definitely worth it,” said Mc Arthur Blackledge, vaccinated Bakersfield resident.
The MLK CommUNITY Initiative hopes to do more vaccine clinics in Southeast Bakersfield in the future.