ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - On Saturday, Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg opened its doors to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We have the love of Jesus and we just welcome everybody and this gives us an opportunity to touch people in a special way," site coordinator Ruby Hope explained.
It’s part of an effort to get the highly sought-after vaccine into underserved communities.
Hope shared, "Transportation can be a barrier, access can be a barrier, having to work so the closer you are the less time you have to take off work to get the vaccine so having it right here in the community and having it at a place of trust, being faith, All of those things is a good combination."
Nearly 3.4 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, but according to the Department of Health data, less than 6% of those vaccinated are Black.
Governor Ron DeSantis says his emergency management department has been working to change that disparity and get the vaccine into the communities most vulnerable to the virus.
"They’ve worked with every single member of the legislative black caucus and put some of these sites into most of their districts and continue to work hard to be able to expand offerings," DeSantis said.
For educators like Cody Clark, this means one step closer to normalcy and protecting himself, his school and his family.
"My mother is in her 80s so I definitely wanted to get the shot so I could be around the family more," Clark shared.
Since January, the state says it has worked with the faith-based community to administer the vaccine at 70 events in underserved communities, administering nearly 60,000 doses of the vaccine.