LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Louisville church was transformed Friday into a mass COVID vaccine distribution center.
About 400 first doses were distributed to people aged 65 and older at Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in a pop-up vaccination site.
Due to an outpouring of interest, the event will be split between Friday and Tuesday, Feb. 2 with another 400 doses distributed on the second day.
Robert Willis and his wife Marita each received their shot Friday. He told WAVE 3 News it took weeks to find an appointment.
“We were looking for the first opportunity to get a shot,” he said. “We’ve been searching since the shot first became available.”
Willis said he was “elated” to receive his shot and see more Black people being vaccinated.
“Extremely happy to get our first dose,” he said. “We cried tears of joy, tears of happiness.”
Kingdom Fellowship partnered with UofL Health to create the pop-up vaccine site after the health system hosted its first pop-up at Community Missionary Baptist Church on Feb. 12.
UofL previously announced its plans to host additional pop-up sites at local churches. Each church is expected to conduct its own sign-up process, targeting members and others in underserved communities.
“If you look at the numbers across Louisville of the communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, only 25% of those communities are communities of color,” Dr. Jason Smith said.
Smith explained it was part of UofL’s mission to find ways to vaccinate underserved populations.
“For us, it was as simple as this is where people are hurting, so this is where we want to go,” he said.
Pastor Timothy Findley Jr. said the response he received when he opened the sign-up process was overwhelming. He expressed his hope the pop-up site would break down barriers including vaccine hesitancy and lack of resources.
“We’re seeing many seniors, and many of those seniors I think at one time were apprehensive and have access issues... giving the vaccination event here in the church and even in the sanctuary I think has helped with easing some of those fears,” he said.
UofL expanded vaccine eligibility to 65 and older for the pop-up site at Kingdom Fellowship. However, the state’s current vaccination phase, 1B, only allows vaccination for priority groups including those 70 and older.
On Friday, Dr. Jason Smith said it “didn’t make sense” to limit vaccinations with Phase 1C starting soon, in a community hit disproportionately hard by the virus.