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Gov. McKee committed to vaccinating Black and Brown Rhode Islanders – Ann Clanton

Photo, top: from Dr. Munoz Twitter feed, celebrating the end of the clinic and success of numbers vaccinated.

By Ann-Allison Clanton, contributing writer, “Speak-Up”

Twenty-one-year-old Dante Machado came to the Dunkin Donuts Center to receive his vaccine shot. “I feel pretty good,” he reported. “I am already signed up for May 8th to receive (the second) shot,” says Machado. The millennial Rumford resident says he will “encourage my family and my cousins to get the shot”.

Positive responses like Machado’s is what Governor Dan McKee and Reverend Howard Jenkins were hoping for when decisions were made to hold a special clinic to vaccinate BIPOC communities, particularly from Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket.

Saturday’s clinic to help erase inequities in vaccine accessibility became a reality following the Bethel AME Pastor and NAACP Providence Branch President Jim Vincent’s meeting with Governor McKee. According to the leaders, they asked the Governor and his staff aide to give the greenlight and assistance in securing the space and manpower for the clinic.

Governor McKee came through with space at the Dunkin Donuts Center, the Rhode Island National Guard and the Rhode Island Department of Health to aid the Reverend Jenkins and the partnering organizations he recruited to sign up adults 18 year or older from BIPOC communities. “We exceeded our expectations and had a good number of people vaccinated, says Reverend Jenkins. There are more who want to take it, than those that do not.” said the Reverend.

Individuals who received their shot today received appointments to get their second shot in May.

Clearly the success of Saturday’s clinic are the messengers and their message. At the Dunk on Saturday there was plenty of evidence that the message was received. Dr. Munoz and individuals leading the partnering organizations stood on the steps to greet people; discussion turned to keeping the coalition together for other projects. “We have a very good platform here for us to impact our BIPOC community,” says Vincent.

The Governor toured the site and felt pleased about the feedback from families and individuals he received. “Our best Ambassadors are the people who received the vaccination,” said Governor McKee. Governor McKee’s presence at The Dunk on Saturday showed his commitment to addressing how the pandemic is affecting communities of color.

Does the success of Saturday’s targeted clinic indicate that attitudes toward the vaccine among black and brown communities have taken a turn around? If this is the case, time will tell.

We need to keep pace with the population they represent in giving the vaccine, says Governor McKee. If Black people are 8% of Rhode Island’s population, they need to be getting at least 4% of the shots.

What Saturday does prove is that Governor McKee is committed to finding ways to encourage Blacks, Hispanics and Asians to receive the shot. Granted, Governor Dan McKee has made some gains in addressing health inequity when it comes to COVID-19 among people of color. Many hope that the Governor and the Coalition can replicate these successful efforts on issues of education and affordable housing.

Organizations partnering for the Equity Council’s program include: Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Bethel AME Church, Mount Hope Community Center, Black Lives Matter Political Action Committee, Progresso Latino, We Cambodian Society, Iglesia Evangelica, NAACP Providence Branch, Steam box, Arise, AMOR, HEZ Pawtucket and Central Falls, HEZ Woonsocket, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc – Providence Alumnae Chapter, Stages of Freedom, Congdon Street Baptist Church, and the RI African American Clergywomen.

Partnering individuals include: Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, Kiah Bryant, Pastor Howard Jenkins, Corinne Collier, Harrison Tuttle, Senator Tiara Mack, Rep. Leonela Felix, Eugene Monteiro, Helen Dukes, Roberto Gonzalez, Rosa Sierra, Jim Vincent, James Diossa, Councilwoman Valerie Gonzalez, Secretary Womazetta Jones, Julian Drix-Rodriguez, Ineida Rocha, and Stanley Bios.

Plans are for the next Equity Vaccination Clinic to take place in Woonsocket, and next weekend, once again, in the Providence area.

Editor’s Note: 2,660 people were vaccinated with remainder of vaccines going to the National Guard-run walk-in clinic at the same location.

Update: Rhode Island Governor Daniel J. McKee has asked the State Police to look into why some 1,400 people of color who had registered for last weekend’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence were sent false cancellation notices.

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Ann-Allison Clanton was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. As principle of Ann Clanton Communications, Ann has more than two decades of experience as a communications and public affairs consultant. She has written features and profiles articles for the Providence American Newspaper and Ethnic Online Magazine.

Among the notable persons interviewed include former U. S. Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Cornell West, former Florida Congressman Allen West (R-FL) and Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus first African American Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson.

Ann is the founder of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival and a founding member of the Southern New England Association of Black Journalists.

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