HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic teamed up for a second weekend COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Saturday and Sunday.
It offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and officials say roughly 500 people received the shot.
Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker says the weekend clinic aims to reach deprived communities.
“The goal of these weekends is to try and bring access to a vaccine, particularly to underserved populations that may have had some hesitation about it, but coming to their local community center is something that they feel comfortable doing,” Barker said.
According to the mayor, 70% of people who received the shot were African-American.
“COVID-19 has amplified the economic and health disparities that were already there,” Barker said. “And if we can’t take care of everyone in our community or at least give everyone an equal shot at protecting themselves and their families, then we are falling short in our efforts to combat this pandemic.”
Officials say the hesitancy from some demographics may be because of the past.
“If you look at just sort of some darker chapters of our nation’s history, like the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment and things like that, I mean those have stirred up a lot of questions, rightfully, in certain circles about whether this vaccine is safe,” Barker said.
He says having weekend vaccination clinics may help the community reach the end of the pandemic.
“I hope that each time we do one of these events and each time someone has a person from their family or from their friend group or from their church that goes to get a vaccine, people become more comfortable with the idea of getting it themselves,” Barker said.
Looking at the numbers, Hattiesburg Metro area residents had a big turnout, with 71.4% of vaccination recipients being from Forrest County.
Barker says having the weekend clinic helps ensure city and health leaders are doing everything they can to help combat the pandemic.
“Doing these vaccinations there in addition to the other providers that have them continues to make sure that we’re reaching out to every segment of our community to make sure we can get all of us across the finish line,” Barker said.
As far as future weekend vaccination clinic plans go, Barker says that depends on the demand for the vaccine.