NORFOLK, Va. — Faith leaders are leading the charge to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations.
Faith Deliverance Christian Center has stayed closed during the pandemic, but the church opened its doors for a special service Tuesday.
Community service brought people together for a vaccination event at the predominantly Black church in Norfolk on 26th Street and Waverly Way.
“Our community and communities of color are being hit the hardest, and so we have to do what we need to do in order to protect ourselves,” said Dr. Sharon Riley, Faith Deliverance Christian Center pastor.
Steadfast volunteers held signs on the busy street urging people to walk in for their life-saving shot.
“Today isn’t just about faith deliverance. Today is about Villa Heights, Lindenwood, Park Place, Huntersville - all of the communities that are around us,” said Riley.
Larry Reese came from Portsmouth for his vaccine. After doing research, he overcame the distrust many African Americans feel about the health care system.
“I was just ready and had made up my mind, you know; I just wanted to do the right thing,” said Reese.
The Norfolk Health Department says faith leaders across denomination, and especially in the Black community, are key to increasing vaccinations among the most vulnerable.
Deputy Director of the Norfolk Health Department Dr. Annie Williams says, “a substantial portion of the African American Community and certainly a large portion of the elderly community,” have been vaccinated at their place of worship.
"When we rolled out the first phase, so many of those age 65 and older we were able to reach through the churches," Dr. Williams said.
Churches are accessible and continue to be a place of refuge. Now is no different.
“The faces that they will see around the building will be faces that look like them — faces that they can really relate to,” said Riley.
Related: Virginia turns to clergy, community to increase vaccinations within communities of color
The health department stresses the vaccine prevents death and hospitalizations, and the church encourages people to do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Two more vaccination events will take place at Faith Deliverance Christian Center on April 27 and May 4 from 12 - 4 p.m. Walk-ups are welcome.