First Baptist Church Of Lincoln Gardens Participates In COVID-19 Vaccination Program

A new state-local partnership to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to the state’s underrepresented population kicked off February 15 at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

A state-local partnership designed to vaccinate 15,000 residents kicked off February 15 at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

Under the program, about 1,500 local residents will be vaccinated at the church over the next two weeks, and will then return for a second dose.

All appointments for the FBCLG site have been taken.

The vaccine program began at the church at 2 p.m. on the 15th, said Laura A. Connolly, a spokeswoman for the NJ State Police Emergency Management Section.

The church is one of five sites throughout the state that will act as hosts for the vaccination program, targeted to New Jersey’s underserved communities. The other four are in Trenton, Elizabeth, Vineland, and Paterson.

Other sites will be added to the program as they are identified, according to a press release from the state DOH.

The state’s release did not say which vaccine was to be administered.

The program is a joint effort among the state Department of Health, the state Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Department of Defense, in addition to local faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, local officials, and health departments, according to the press release.

Each site is targeted to vaccinate 1,500 people a week, with the program running for two weeks at each site. Those vaccinated will return to teh sites for a second dose.

The first sites were “strategically selected as they have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and are some of the most diverse and socio-economically challenged communities in the state,” according to the release.

The Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, senior pastor at FBCLG, said that his congregation has been preparing for the program for a month.

“We are ready for this,” he said in the press release. “We’ve had educational webinars for our members for the past month.”

“Overwhelmingly, African American and Hispanic members of our church and community are ready to take this vaccine,” Soaries said. “I have a woman 105 years old registered for the vaccine.”

Reverend Soaries said in the release that all available appointments at his church are already filled.

“We have 100 staff and volunteers who are going to serve and assist seniors,” he said in the release.

The program has targeted vaccinating 15,000 state residents through the end of March, according to the release.

Gov. Phil Murphy said in the release that the program’s focus “is ensuring equitable access to appointments and vaccinations.”

“We are grateful for this unique partnership between our state agencies, federal government, and faith and local leaders as we begin this new phase in our vaccination effort to provide New Jerseyans with access to vaccine,” Murphy said in the release.

“Throughout this pandemic, the Health Department’s work on the COVID-19 response and our vaccination planning has been done through an equity lens,” New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in the release. “Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by this virus, and with our interfaith community partners, we are working to increase access and availability of the vaccine to vulnerable communities.”

To ensure equitable access in these high-need cities, these sites will operate as closed points of distribution for members of the immediate community only. Vaccination appointments will be required and will be handled directly through partnering houses of worship, community organizations, and local community leaders. Each site will coordinate with a health partner and vaccine will be dispensed from the State’s allocation. A vaccination support team from the Department of Defense will provide the clinical staffing at the sites and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide non-medical support.

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