Shuttle buses full of people stopped Monday at Mount Olivet Baptist Church on Adams Street as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for “fairness and equity” in vaccine distribution. The church’s congregation is predominantly black.
The church’s reverend, Rickey Harvey, said the appointment-only pop-up event came together with just three days notice.
“We got this call Friday, today is Monday; we had no idea that the outpour would be the way it is,” said Harvey. “The energy, the enthusiasm, the people have just responded wonderfully.”
Harvey said they planned to give out between 250 and 300 doses to essential workers and people over 65.
Harvey said he spent part of the day talking people through their concerns about the vaccine, including worries about pain. He said he was a little fearful himself.
“I’m not one good for needles,” Harvey said with a laugh. “So then I was sitting there, prepared to scream, and she was putting the Band-Aid on me and telling me to go.”
Pain wasn’t a concern for Joyce Kittles of Rochester.
“I wanted it,” said Kittles. “I’d rather get the shot than die.”
Mary Lou Carlson and her husband, Bill, drove from Rush to get the vaccine. She said they couldn’t get it anywhere else.
“This is our first opportunity and we jumped at the chance,” said Carlson. “We’ve been registered for about three weeks and this is the first one that opened with vaccines.”
Harvey said that word was first spread to their congregation, then other congregations. He said clinics at smaller, accessible, well-known locations like Mount Olivet put people at ease.
“I think parishioners, not just our church members, but other church members, were more comfortable coming here, to a place that is familiar to them, and I think that makes all the difference,” he said.
The second dose of vaccine for everyone who got one Monday has been scheduled.
“It’s a start,” Harvey said, “for a long journey that we are on.”