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RMC works with nonprofits to get COVID-19 vaccines to underserved groups

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Interfaith Ministries vaccine

Charline Mobley administers the first COVID-19 vaccine to Walter Elston at an event sponsored by Interfaith Ministries and Regional Medical Center.

Donald Grubb and Frank Lackey had a stroke of luck Wednesday morning.

The two friends had gone to Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County to fax some documents when a man approached them and asked them if they wanted to get COVID-19 vaccines.

“We were talking this morning about getting an appointment,” Lackey said. “As it happened, we walked right into it.”

Around 10 a.m., there were no lines and getting the shot itself took only a few moments.

“It went actually smoother than I thought it would go,” Lackey said.

Grubb and Lackey were two of about 55 people who got the Moderna vaccine Wednesday morning in the gym at Anniston First United Methodist Church — one of four small vaccination clinics this week targeting local areas where people may not have access to the vaccine, or may feel hesitant to get it.

In addition to Interfaith Ministries, clinics will be held at St. Michael’s Clinic, Hobson City and Anniston’s Carver Center. People who are being offered the vaccines have been specifically chosen by community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

According to Regional Medical Center Infection Control Preventionist Kandi Williams, the hospital had previously requested 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 5,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Alabama Department of Public Health. She found out Friday the hospital had been approved for 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Instead of hosting a mass vaccination site, she said, they decided to host the four smaller clinics.

“We thought this would be the best way to utilize the 400 doses,” she said.

Stringfellow Memorial Hospital nurse Dani Jordan, who administered the vaccines Wednesday morning, said the people who got them were nervous, but hopeful. She said elderly patients seemed especially glad to get the shots.

“A lot of them talk about how encouraged they are now,” she said. “They can be around family and certain social groups again.”

April LaFollette, the director of Interfaith Ministries, said her organization worked the past few days with other nonprofits in Anniston to compile a list of people who may not otherwise have access to the vaccine, including homeless people and those living in public housing, who are eligible to come to the testing sites this week.

“Through this, we’ve been able to serve about 35 or 40 people we consider marginalized,” she said. “It’s been an equal serve in terms of African Americans and caucasians.”

Additionally, LaFollette said, they were able to offer leftover vaccines to volunteers and people on the street.

Stephen Pitts, a volunteer driver for the Interfaith Ministries Meals on Wheels program, said drivers couldn’t visit the clients indoors during the pandemic, but he expects that to change soon. According to Pitts, those visits gave many clients something to regularly look forward to.

“Some of these people don’t see people for days and days,” he said.

He said the shot tingled a little bit, but was no worse than getting a regular shot at a doctor’s office.

About half of Interfaith Ministries clients said no when asked, LaFollette said, citing concerns that the vaccine was dangerous.

“Our hope is, now that we’ve given out the vaccine, they will tell all of their friends it’s OK,” LaFollette said.

And that’s exactly what Grubb said he planned to do.

“I’m going to coax anybody I can to come down here,” he said.

Grubb, who tested positive for COVID-19 a few months ago, said he’s still dealing with breathing and sinus issues from the virus. He didn’t want to get it again or give it to anyone else.

“I never really got rid of it,” he said.

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563 or