(TNS) - City officials are partnering with members of Middletown's Ministerial Health Fellowship at the local AME Zion Church to address concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The mission of the alliance, based at African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at 440 West St., is to address "systemic barriers to Black communities' access to care with an integrated, faith-based, health care advocacy network," according to its website.
A small pilot clinic for the 75-and-older crowd is set for Feb. 9, an effort to reach the minority populace, Middletown Acting Health Director Kevin Elak said.
"By doing this, people are more comfortable getting the vaccine where they're familiar," said Elak, who works with Cromwell, Middletown, Durham and Middlefield, all of which are in the same health region. He has seen the trend across Connecticut and the nation, since he's frequently in contact with the governor's office, state health department and Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.
Having these take place at churches "decreases [minorities'] hesitancy," he said. "There's a longstanding mistrust in health care of persons of color dating back to the [Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis]" of the 1930s, Elak said.
"These vaccines are relatively new, and created with new technology, so many people already have questions," Elak said, about its efficacy and long-term effects, for example.
Due to Monday's storm, the Middletown-based Community Health Center canceled all COVID tests through noon Tuesday at all of its sites statewide. Appointments during that period will be rescheduled and patients contacted, according to the CHC website.
The second-shot clinic scheduled for about 20 individuals Monday went ahead at the Emergency Operations Center on Mile Lane for firefighters at the Westfield Volunteer Fire District, according to Elak. Anyone who was unable to make it will have their appointments rescheduled, Middletown Mayor Ben Florshheim said.
Although there is no clinic scheduled for Tuesday, there are others this week for those 75 and older in Cromwell (about 15 doses), Middletown (140 doses), and another later in the week in Durham. The city is part of a regional health network that includes these area municipalities.
Middletown's positivity and case rates per 100,000 continue to decline, Elak said in his Saturday report.
So far, there have been 3,243 confirmed cases of COVID in Middletown, a rise of 148 over last week, according to the report. Total deaths were 126 — three more than the prior week.
Last week, the positivity rate was 53.9, a decline from 67.2 over the prior two-week period. During that same period, the percent positive per 100,000 declined to 5.8 percent from 7.1 percent the two weeks before, Elak's report said.
The city has made a lot of headway in vaccinating eligible residents, he said. Last week, Middletown received 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which allowed 120 seniors to be inoculated at the senior center, 60 at Cromwell Town Hall, 70 at Heritage Commons Retirement Community, and 50 at Durham Activity Center, Elak said.
If Middletown had received the requested number of doses, all those 75 and older would have been inoculated last week, Elak said.
The city requested 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the state Department of Public Health for the week of Jan. 31 and received 200, Elak said. The supply has been "extremely limited," something happening across Connecticut, he said.
Elak said he will put in another request Tuesday for 600 doses.
The city is now negotiating with area agencies and the Community Health Center to coordinate vaccination clinics for residents and staff at congregate living sites, Elak said in his report.
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