BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State health officials are working to make COVID-19 vaccine more accessible by partnering with FEMA to bring a Community Vaccination Center to Bessemer.
Government officials said they chose the Bessemer location based off the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. That includes elements like socioeconomic status, minority status and transportation issues. Some Bessemer residents said they are happy about the site and think it has been needed.
“I know several people that haven’t went, but if there was one within reach, they would go,” Bessemer resident Willie Carr said.
“A lot of the elderly communities that live in these areas, they need more accessible ways to get to the vaccine,” Hueytown resident Erika Mixon said.
The site in Bessemer will be at The Watermark Place.
“Certainly that part of the county has had some vaccinations,” State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “But, probably not as much as parts of Jefferson County, so we think it’s a good location. We think it will serve a lot of people that may have been somewhat distant from where they could get vaccinated previously.”
The site will offer 1,000 shots per day and will be open 7 days a week for the next two months.
Carr said the site having weekend hours makes it more convenient than other vaccination locations.
“I got my first shot and had to take off work,” Carr said. “Because, in the afternoons when I got off, everything was shut down. In the mornings when I went, it was just too early.”
Harris said he hopes the new location helps vaccination rates.
“Making it close will help it being accessible,” Mixon said. “I think the hesitancy is going to be how they roll it out and how they explain it to those people in the community.”
“There’s not a simple solution,” Harris said. “People have lots of different reasons they give for not wanting to take the vaccine. We just encourage people to talk to their own doctor to get their questions answered and then decide if that’s the right thing for them to do.”
The White House has already deployed federal teams to help run the site. The goal is to open it by Wednesday the 21st.
“I think that is a good spot due to the convenience of being able to get to certain communities in the area quickly,” Mixon said.
“Having additional resources to come in and actually help us to operate the clinic and have a location and have some staffing there, that’s going to be tremendously helpful,” Harris said. “The more people we can have out there giving shots, the easier it’ll be for the public to access that.”