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Church serves at vaccination clinic

Posted: February 26 2021 at 02:18 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt, Dir. of Communications


Lanarkvaccine1

Rev. Marilyn Nolan, senior pastor at Lanark UMC, receives her first dose of the COVD-19 Moderna vaccine. The church hosted a vaccination clinic for the Carroll County Health Department on Feb. 17.

Like many people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Rev. Marilyn Nolan, senior pastor at Lanark UMC, went on the search to find an appointment to get her shot, which would surprisingly turn into a community outreach. 

“Since I was in 1b category, I called the local Caroll County Health department to make an appointment and was told I was number 500 on a long waitlist,” said Nolan, a bit discouraged. “But while on the phone, I asked the administrator if the county needed sites to distribute the vaccine and offered our church as suggested by one of our members.”

Nolan shared that the church building had two fairly large, ground-level rooms, nearby restrooms, and a handicap accessible entrance. The administrator appeared to like the space options and said she would get back to her. 

Within a few days, Nolan was giving the county health department officials a tour of the church building and a clinic date was set for Feb. 17.

“The church reached out to us and the space was ideal for our needs,” said Dawn Holland, Assistant Administrator Caroll County Health Department, who added this was a community effort. “We were partnering with the Freeport Health Network to administer the vaccine and Lanark was close and a good location for them as well.”

The clinic at Lanark UMC was the largest the county has been able to hold with 400 people given the Moderna vaccine.  Those vaccinated will return in March for the second dose. All appointments were scheduled and walk-ins were not accepted, eliminating long lines.

“Everything ran so smoothly and we only had to set up some tables and chairs,” said Nolan who was able to get her shot that day along with her husband. “The shot wasn’t bad at all and I’m thankful we were able to offer our space and be in ministry to care and help keep people safe. That’s what the church should be doing – reaching out to the community and be welcoming, open and available.”

Lanark UMC member Marilyn Lamoreux was also fortunate to get an appointment and grateful her church hosted the clinic. 

“I signed up through Caroll County and wanted to get the vaccine so I would be able to visit my mother who is 100 and living in an assisted living facility,” said Lamoreaux, who along with a few other ladies in the church have been at the forefront of helping people stay safe during the pandemic by making hundreds handmade face masks for distribution. “I always knew once the vaccine was developed that I would get it. I think it’s really important to help eliminate the transmission and the more people who get it the better off we all will be.”

While not every church can serve as a vaccination clinic, leaders can take an active role in helping church members and the community find the vaccine and make their decisions.

The state of Illinois is administrating on average 69,000 vaccine doses a day and falls behind other state rollout efforts. This can make finding an appointment difficult and frustrating. Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries, received her two doses of the Pfizer vaccine through a community program launched by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. By stepping up to be in the first group vaccinated by Rush, faith and community leaders were asked to testify to the experience and encourage others to follow their example. 

“I took my shot and I can report that while I experienced a sore arm and a few joint aches after the first dose, overall, the process was smooth,” said Christopherson. “Many counties are now offering the vaccine to clergy as part of the Phase 1b rollout, and many other designated groups are now eligible to be vaccinated.”

Christopherson says if you’re looking for information, go to your county health department website for local information and sign up for alerts. Rev. Nolan said if your church would like to host a clinic, contact the local health department, and it doesn’t hurt to offer.

“The people who came to our clinic were hopeful and happy to get the process started,” said Nolan. “We are grateful we were able to give those 400 people who got their shot at our church, that opportunity.”

To find more information on the vaccine, including locations and FAQs, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov.
 

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