‘I feel safer’: 50 people vaccinated at first of two clinics organized by Cedar Rapids NAACP, Linn Co. Public Health

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - 50 people received their COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday at the first of two vaccination clinics organized by the Cedar Rapids NAACP and Linn County Public Health.

All 50 people received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including Beverly Doss, of Cedar Rapids, who was one of the first people Tuesday afternoon to get her shot. Doss said just having to get one shot to become fully vaccinated instead of the two-dose series offered by Pfizer and Moderna helped convince her to sign up for the clinic.

“I’m really excited to just go forward and know that I have this vaccine and I’m doing my best to stay safe,” Doss said, after receiving her shot.

Doss said she had trouble finding vaccination appointments before those at the clinic opened up, with the spots she saw mainly offered on weekends.

“Those Saturdays and late Saturday afternoon, when there’s no buses or anything, makes it difficult,” Doss said.

Dedric Doolin, president of the Cedar Rapids NAACP, said the main goal of Tuesday’s clinic was to make shots more accessible, which he said was the biggest challenge he heard people were having.

“I think also just having it here in the community is a good thing because people feel a bit more safer coming to this location. People live around here. Some of the people that came in just live within walking distance,” Doolin said.

While anyone who currently qualifies for a vaccine in Iowa was welcomed to sign up for Tuesday’s clinic, the NAACP said it wanted to find a way to address huge disparities in who is receiving shots in Iowa, where more than 1.6 million doses have been administered, as of Tuesday night.

According to data reported by the state, by race, people who identify as White have received nearly 81% of the doses. People who identify as Black or Asian have each received less than 1.3% of the doses, and the Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander population has gotten less than 0.3% of the shots combined.

By ethnicity, people who identify as Hispanic or Latino have received less than 1.9% of Iowa’s shots, while the non-Hispanic or Latino population has received nearly 79% of the shots.

Both data sets are incomplete, as providers are not required to report race or ethnicity. Recipients in the “unknown” category comprise about 15% of the shots in the breakdown by race and about 19% of the shots in the breakdown by ethnicity.

Doolin said they also hoped to use the clinics as an opportunity to dispel myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“For example, there’s a myth out there that Black people are fearful,” Doolin said. “There are some, but that’s not a large number, but there are some, and then when it gets out in the media, somebody says, ‘Well, if everybody else is scared of it, I should be scared of it.’”

Workers from Linn County Public Health administered shots at the clinic, which was held at The R.O.C. Center in southeast Cedar Rapids.

Doolin said even more groups pitched in to put on what he called a community event.

“I got a list of people that just called and said, ‘Can I help out?’ so it’s been a good effort to try to get people to make our community safe and save lives hopefully,” Doolin said.

Devon Canty, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa who lives in Tiffin, said he was glad he was able to snag one of the 50 spots open Tuesday.

“Hopefully I can encourage other younger people who are willing and wanting to get vaccinated to come and get vaccinated as well,” Canty said.

Both Canty and Doss described how their shots felt in similar ways.

“It was painless, and it’s over in a second,” Canty said.

“It felt like somebody put their thumb on my arm and pushed in. That’s it,” Doss said.

They had the same feeling right after it as well.

“Relieved,” Canty said. “Definitely relieved, and I’m glad I got it over with.”

“It’s a relief now. I feel safer,” Doss said.

While another clinic will be held at The R.O.C. Center on Saturday, all 50 spots have been filled. But Doolin said they may organize more clinics in the future if the demand is still there and dosages are available.

“If we have to do it again, we’ll do it again, because the thing is, we’re trying to reach out to people and get people who want this vaccine, and it’ll help our whole community,” Doolin said.

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