Community organizations coordinate with state to get COVID-19 vaccine to more Black Minnesotans

Minnesota is increasing outreach among the Black community to makes sure everyone can get vaccinated for COVID-19. (FOX 9)

Earlier this week, Governor Walz announced the state is partnering with a number of different groups to get COVID-19 vaccines to communities of color.

"It's not that far from my house," said L.G. McGowan. "It's convenient for me."

As someone with muscular dystrophy and diabetes, L.G. McGowan knows it’s important for him to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But it wasn't until the immunizations were offered at a nearby church that he decided to give it a shot.

"I'm a churchgoing person anyway so I'm there every Sunday but I have no problem," said McGowan. "It's a good thing to get it at the church."

The United Church of God in Christ in St. Paul hosted the coronavirus vaccination clinic put on by the Stairstep Foundation along with M Health Fairview. It's part of an effort to get more African Americans immunized against the disease by utilizing pillars in the Black community, its houses of worship.

"Our churches have always been the root and anchor of the good things that happen in our community," said Reverend Alfred Babington-Johnson with the Stairstep Foundation. "So at a time of challenge such as this, it's critical for us to use the church as a networking opportunity to reach the community and serve the community."

State health officials say Black Minnesotans are more likely to contract, be hospitalized by, and die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. But many are hesitant to trust medical institutions that have subjected people of color to unethical experiments and discrimination.

"There is a sense of mistrust and skepticism from our community, but we want to overcome that because the risk of this virus is much greater and the benefit of the vaccine is what we need at this hour," said Rev. Babington-Johnson.

McGowan says a church was the perfect place to get what he says is the answer to his prayers.

"I was never afraid, but I was skeptical, so I had to pray about it and God put an ease on my heart to go and get this shot," said McGowan.

In all, the clinic gave 170 shots Friday afternoon. This is the third vaccination clinic Stairstep has organized. It plans to host a series of others at Twin Cities churches over the next two months.