It’s a shot in the arm many Jackson residents, like Deborah Davis, have been waiting for. “It’s a relief to get it. I’m impressed with the operation here, it was smooth sailing,” Davis said after getting her COVID-19 vaccination at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. Davis and dozens of other Jackson residents came to the MLK Center on Thursday, March 4 for Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s first vaccine distribution event at the City-operated center. COVID-19 vaccines will now be available every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the center to those who are eligible to receive vaccinations according to the latest State of Michigan guidelines.
The newly-remodeled MLK Center is located in the heart of Jackson’s south side neighborhood, which is predominately African American. Myeshia Jones, Director of Community Engagement with Henry Ford Allegiance Health, says the health system opened a vaccine site at the center to make sure people of color were included in vaccination efforts. “The MLK Center is a trusted location in the community where we know black and brown people feel comfortable and safe coming to. Equity is at the center of our work and this shows that our health system cares about our entire community,” Jones said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and healthcare access, affecting these groups are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. To achieve health equity, the CDC says barriers must be removed so that everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Jackson resident Ricky Hurst also got his COVID-19 vaccination at the first distribution event on Thursday. He says offering vaccines at the center will encourage people to get vaccinated. “I think some people might be afraid to get the shot, but the more we show African Americans like me getting it, I believe more people in the community will be at ease,” Hurst said.
MLK Center Director Antonio Parker says he’s thankful for this partnership with the health system. “Seeing our neighbors come into the center to get vaccinated is a very powerful thing. The City is happy to provide this space for these front line workers to help Jackson beat the virus,” Parker said.
Residents wanting to get vaccinated at the MLK Center can sign up through their health care provider. If they are an Allegiance Health patient, they can use the Henry Ford MyChart online platform. Community organizations, such as churches, can also be a reference for some residents. Walk-ins at the MLK Center vaccination site are welcome. The MLK Center is located at 1107 Adrian St. and is reached by calling 517-788-4067.