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DC nonprofit brings vaccines to patients in hardest-hit wards

Community of Hope vaccinated 200 people at its Family Health and Birth Center in Ward 5 Saturday.

WASHINGTON — The Washington D.C. nonprofit Community of Hope administered doses of hope at its vaccine pop-up clinic Saturday.

The organization has been vaccinating 300 to 400 people at its centers in Ward 1 and Ward 8 each week. But, CEO Kelly Sweeney McShane said there was a high interest for shots at the Family Health and Birth Center in Ward 5.

According to D.C. Health data, Ward 5 has had the second-highest number of COVID cases in the District.

One nurse administering doses Saturday said staff had been asking when they would be able to start giving COVID vaccinations.

Some people, like Michael Weaver, were eager to sign up as soon as they could. Weaver lives in Ward 8 and said his health care provider scheduled an appointment for him.

“I'm usually around a lot of older guys and I'd hate to catch it and spread it to one of them, so I figured that as soon as I'm able to, I get the vaccine to protect myself and especially them," he said.

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However, the CEO said others are still on the fence about getting the shot.

“A lot of valid reasons for people to be hesitant so …[we're] making sure we're educating people so that they can make an informed choice and then create that access so when they're ready and as they're ready that they can get those vaccines," Sweeney McShane said.

She said it has been a little harder to fill the shot schedule in Ward 8 than in Ward 5, where they held the clinic. By the end of the day Saturday, the team said they will have vaccinated 200 people with a Moderna dose.

“COVID has certainly transformed how we do everything, it's transformed the lives of our patients," Sweeney McShane said. "The majority of our patients live in Wards 5, 7, and 8. And those are the wards that have been hit the hardest by COVID. In fact, I think Ward 8 has the highest number of deaths related to COVID. But they've also had the lowest rate of vaccination for the COVID vaccine. And so that's really our focus is how do we get the vaccine for patients who want it and who need it, and how it can save lives for residents of those parts of the city.”

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Clara Chea said she was scared at first, but decided the benefits outweighed the risks.

“So those who are out there scared, don't be scared. Take the vaccine," she said. "You know so you can’t have the COVID. So you can be here. So everything can go to normality. So everybody can be OK. So I step up, and I took mine.” 

Community of Hope is offering vaccination appointments for their patients and some eligible community members, based on D.C. Health's rules.

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