Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — In partnership with the Rowan County Health Department, Livingstone College delivered 500 first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday in an effort to broaden access for marginalized communities.
Interim Health Director Alyssa Harris said Saturday’s event was another example of a community-led initiative to continue broadening access to the vaccine. Staff for Rowan County Emergency Management Services assisted along with the local Chi Eta Phi chapter, a national nursing sorority. Chapter President Zena Thompson said past partnerships have included health screenings via Novant Health at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA facility.
Anthony Davis, who coordinated Saturday’s “In Your Spot — Get Your Shot” event, said the clinic was open to all members of the community, but the goal was to reach marginalized communities, including the Black and Hispanic/Latinx community as well as those who are unable to receive the vaccine via drive-thru clinics. Davis said he was happy to see a prominent share of the Hispanic/Latinx community visit the campus for the first time to receive the vaccination.
Davis said Livingstone College shared with its students facts about the vaccination. To people who may be hesitant to take the vaccine, Davis said “the numbers don’t lie.”
Of the 12,387 deaths from COVID-19 reported by state health officials, 25% of those were Black North Carolinians, though they only comprise 22% of the state’s population. Additionally, though Hispanic/Latinx North Carolinians comprise 9% of the state’s population, they make up 20% of all positive cases since March 2020.
“It’s about access and availability,” Davis said. “It’s about trust and transparency. Vaccine education is very important, and we know there are vulnerable people in vulnerable places.”
Davis said he was proud the event was led by a number of students who knew “this is the only tool we have to expedite a return to normalcy.”
Malik Hosendove, a sophomore studying history at Livingstone, said the opportunity to receive the vaccine was one that was long-awaited.
“It shows we are moving one step forward,” Hosendove said.
Hosendove said he previously battled COVID-19, and emphasized any resulting side effects from the vaccine are far easier to deal with than those associated with the virus. When he tested positive for COVID-19, he experienced a bloody cough and the inability to eat for weeks, he said. He likened it to having the flu “but suffocating at the same time.”
Though he and his friends were once hesitant, Hosendove’s friends are following his lead and plan to receive vaccines as well.
Jim Lynch, a Concord resident, was another person who received the first dose Saturday. Lynch said he traveled to Livingstone for the vaccination event because it was the fastest he could get in anywhere locally.
The health department initially planned to administer 800 doses of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But last week, North Carolina followed the CDC’s decision to pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination to further evaluate six rare cases of blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 48. There was one death reported, and more than 6.8 million doses of Johnson and Johnson have been administered so far. Davis said the school was able to pivot within hours after the news to provide 500 doses of the Pfizer vaccination.
Harris said the pause to further evaluate the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination should make people feel safer as it “shows the system is working as designed.”
Livingstone’s clinic was held in the New Trent Gymnasium and operated much like Novant Health’s regular vaccination clinic at the JF Hurley YMCA. Upon check-in, patients were gifted a bag containing water, crackers and cookies made by Livingstone College culinary students.
State health officials report that 46% of adults have received the first dose of the vaccine, while 33% of adults have been fully vaccinated. In Rowan County, 23% of the population has received the vaccine while 17% have now received both doses.
Livingstone College plans to host a second-dose clinic on May 8.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.