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Mecklenburg County to start pop-up vaccine clinics in underserved communities as vaccine supply goes up

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said the county is working with area-partners to create vaccine pop-ups to provide equitable access to minorities.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Minority and underserved communities were hit the hardest by COVID-19 throughout this pandemic. When a vaccine was created, there were questions about whether our underserved communities would have equal access to it. 

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is working to make sure that happens. 

Currently, county health officials are only giving the vaccine out at Bojangles Coliseum. 

However, as the county gets more vaccine, which is happening at a slow pace, health director Gibbie Harris said pop-up vaccine clinics and mass vaccinations will take place at churches and health centers in those underserved communities.

The health department is partnering with faith-based organizations, INLIVIAN (Charlotte Housing Authority), homeless shelters, and the Charlotte Medical Dental and Pharmaceutical Society to help make it happen. 

Harris said some of her workers will be going to homeless shelters this week to vaccinate those who are qualified. 

The efforts though can only happen based on the supply of the vaccine, Harris said. 

It's an effort to help those who can't get to Bojangles Coliseum, as well as increase the trust in the vaccine in Black and brown communities. 

"They're doing the best they can with what they have," said Ray McKinnon, the former pastor at South Tryon Community UMC. "I think what this is showing us, is that we cannot, year after year, underfund essential services like public health departments which folks would never really paid attention to really."

He applauded the hard work the county is doing to make sure there is equitable access but added that the efforts to serve underserved communities shouldn't stop post-pandemic.

"We have to go where people are. We have to go there not just in times like this," he said.  

Harris said she is asking the state for more vaccine, daily. However, the state isn't getting enough from the federal government to give out to communities. 

WCNC Charlotte is following up to get exact locations and times for the pop-up clinics as they happen in Mecklenburg County.