North Carolina nonprofit works to improve vaccine access

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 8:12 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - People hear a lot about vaccine clinics and places to get shots, but often times they are unable due to a lack of time or transportation. One group in Eastern Carolina is trying to build a bridge for those people.

Tonya Foreman is setting up a vaccine clinic at the Convention of Free Will Baptists at the request of convention organizers.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are and provide what they need,” Foreman says.

Foreman is the president and CEO of Citizens Advocating for Racial Equity and Equality.

“We focus a lot of our efforts on minority and marginalized communities. Oftentimes resources and information doesn’t reach the people that need it most,” Foreman explains.

Sheridan Stanley says Foreman is the reason he went ahead and got the COVID-19 vaccine.

“She encouraged me,” Stanley says. “I would tell other people that COVID-19 is still around, and I’ve had COVID-19. It wasn’t bad because I had already taken the shots. But we still need to be protected.”

Foreman is working with volunteers to pass out at-home test kits, administer vaccines, and answer questions. It’s one of many ways they’re reaching people.

“We’ve set up pop-up tents in neighborhoods and provided services in those neighborhoods or at the Piggly Wigglys,” Foreman says.

Convention organizers said it’s all about making the process as easy as possible.

“A lot of times, people don’t have the time with working and everything, so while they’re here from all over the country, they have the opportunity to get their vaccines, to get their boosters, and to get educated,” coordinator Tawan Fields says.

Foreman has even contacted the federal government to get more at-home testing kits because not everyone has internet access to request them.

“You would be leaving out a significant portion of the community by them just generally not having access to request those at-home test kits,” she explains.

Every action is chipping away at the more than 30% of North Carolinians who aren’t fully vaccinated.

“By being willing to take things to people, we really do eliminate a lot of the objections that people say folks have that create what they say is hesitancy, but truthfully oftentimes, it is accessibility,” Foreman says.

CAREE gave out nearly 1,000 at-home testing kits Tuesday alone and vaccinated eight people. The nonprofit is offering vaccines again Wednesday at the Greenville Convention Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 5 to 8 p.m.

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