ENGLEWOOD — A community group and a local hospital are teaming up to get Englewood residents vaccinated.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings, known as MASK, and Rush University Medical Center hosted their first joint vaccination event over the weekend on the site of MASK’s Peace Academy, 7400 S. Stewart Ave. Other events are in the works, with the team aiming to host them twice a week, MASK founder Tamar Manasseh said.
Despite the rain, more than 30 people showed up to receive a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with dozens of others coming out to support as MASK volunteers worked the grill and DJ booth.
Hosting events like these — in public spaces instead of clinical settings — makes it easier for folks to receive the vaccine and more willing to to take it, said Elizabeth Davis, medical director of community health equity at Rush.
“It was a really amazing event. If it was just Rush showing up with some vaccine to some place, that’s not very effective. What’s effective is partnering with groups that are trusted by community members and know how to create an event where people can feel comfortable asking questions,” Davis said.
Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago and Illinois. Vaccines have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, with officials saying they’re needed to end the pandemic.
“The pandemic has been awful, and it’s affected so many lives. It’s also been, strangely, a blessing in disguise so that we can start addressing more serious health concerns, and hopefully start facing them instead of shying away,” said Alma Blancarte Mora, a community health nurse for the hospital.
Rush is also partnering with a local group for a vaccination event in Little Village, and the hospital hopes to expand its reach to collaborate with other organizations on the South and West sides.
For Manasseh, doing what she can to keep her neighbors safe and healthy is paramount.
“I heard people say that they felt comfortable getting the vaccination here because they know us and trust us. There were folks who weren’t considering it until they found out we were doing it here,” Manasseh said. “It means so much that we’re able to do this. These are my people, my family.”
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