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Martin Luther King Center in Jackson transforms into a COVID vaccination hub

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 20:29:13-05

JACKSON, Mich — On Thursdays, the Martin Luther King Center on Jackson's south side becomes a vaccination hub.

There's a reason for that.

In Michigan, as in much of the rest of the country, the vaccination rate for communities of color is well below what it is for white people.

The program, undertaken in partnership with Henry Ford Allegiance Health, is meant to help correct that disparity.

"It's in a targeted neighborhood," said King Center Director Antonio Parker. "It's in the African American community, and we want to target the African American community first with the disparities of them not getting vaccinated.

"We want to make sure people in this community get vaccinated first," he said.

According to data from the Covid Tracking Project in Michigan, Black people have been the most likely to die from the novel coronavirus at a rate of 264 people per 100,000.

Having the vaccination site at the King Center is even prompting some skeptics of the vaccine to come out and get it.

One such person is 69-year-old Jackson resident Frank Williams.

"To be honest with you I wasn't going to get it, but my girl is getting it so she was pleading me to go get it so I wouldn't infect her, so I'm coming to get the shot," Williams said.

The King Center is familiar to the south side community. Organizers saw it as an advantage that "people would be comfortable coming here because it's in their community," Parker said. They know where to come. People have been coming here for years."

Lifelong Jackson resident Ray Hoorison, 57, received his COVID-19 vaccination and knows of at least 40 to 50 people who plan on coming to get the vaccination at the King Center including everybody in his family.

"I grew up two or three blocks away from here and it's going to be hard for the African American community to get the shot in the first place and being local and being right up under us I think is a great idea," Hoorison said.

It is even bringing people from outside of Jackson to the city so those in need can receive the shot. For Peter Morris, of Novi, it was very much a necessity.

"The service they are providing to the country and to the community is awesome," said Morris. "Jackson is just an awesome community with wonderful people and this facility...the notification needs to go out so that people in Jackson and the surrounding community can become immunized. This is a great service. Time to do it."

People from the King Center got in touch with local pastors so the public could sign up at their churches. You can contact the King Center at (517) 788-4067 and representatives can get your information. Once that is complete medical professionals from Henry Ford Allegiance Health will contact you to schedule an appointment.

"If you put this vaccine center anywhere else in the city, people will come but people in this neighborhood, and predominately people in the African American community they'll be comfortable because it's a place to get vaccinated but they just feel more comfortable coming to a place like this," Parker said.

Vaccines will be distributed to those in need first at the King Center until the community has been immunized. Vaccinations are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m every Thursday. Walk-ins are welcomed but appointments are recommended.

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