INDIANAPOLIS — An unlikely partnership sparked from a single conversation.
The pastor at Christ Our King Christian Church on the city's near northwest side formed a friendship with the man who gave him his COVID-19 vaccine.
Weeks later, they got the pieces together to hold their own vaccine clinic at the church to serve people in the community.
“He asked me what it would take to set up a clinic at his church and at the time I had no idea but was interested in helping him in that endeavor,” Dr. John Scott, Goodman Campbell Brain & Spine Interventional Neuroradiologist said.
From there, Dr. Scott connected with people at Ascension St. Vincent and submitted all the necessary paperwork to the State Board of Health to get the site approved.
“It’s very gratifying that everybody has jumped forward,” Scott said.
“My hope is that folks come out in a major way,” Pastor Clarence White, Jr. added.
Pastor White explained there are many seniors in the community and he didn’t want them to miss the opportunity. But, he admits there is still some apprehension among folks.
“Just like one individual I talked to, her mother had MS,” White said. “And she felt that getting the shot might trigger that in her.”
Specifically, there are concerns that the shot will trigger a health condition, the pastor said, and recognizing there is hesitation about vaccines in general — not just the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When you combine misinformation, apprehension from people who have had family members who have been mistreated by the medical community, and then it turns into this situation where people become very defensive about going out to get the vaccine,” Dr. Miracle Anokwute, a neurosurgery resident said.
Dr. Anokwute was recruited by Dr. Scott to find medical students and health professionals to help administer the vaccine at the clinic. He has been a champion for the effort since the beginning.
“The worry that I have for the African American community is that if we’re not proactive enough to go out there and get this vaccine, that we will be set back in our community as compared to our counterparts,” Anokwute said.
“Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine is a valued Ascension St. Vincent partner, and we are thankful for the opportunity to join them in efforts aligned with our Mission to serve those most in need in our community,” said a spokesperson with Ascension St. Vincent.
Although there are people from the African American community who still remember the Tuskegee experiments, he said, where Black men were lied to about receiving medical treatment — the more people share their experiences with the vaccine, the more they will feel comfortable with getting it.
“It’s encouraging when you know somebody and they can give you their personal testimony as far as in saying hey I have this and look at me," White said.
“I think that the more people that represent the community that are being shown that they’re getting the vaccine and they’re being shown to be protected from COVID itself, I think that has a huge impact on the community itself,” Anokwute said. “And that’s why people like myself and Dr. Caine have to come out and speak about this.”
White emphasized that the more people who get vaccinated, “As a community and as a country, we can put this thing behind us."
The clinic is open on June 16 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Christ Our King Christian Church. They’re offering the Pfizer vaccine.