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Goodman Community Center, African American Health Network partner to bring education, vaccines to Black community


Goodman Community Center has announced a partnership with the African American Health Network to host a series of COVID-19 vaccine education and vaccination clinics in April, May and June, starting tonight, with a focus on getting vaccinations for the African-American community.

“On my first day at Goodman, I said I wanted to do something like this. When I first got here, this event was something that I really wanted to do because Goodman is so grassroots. I felt like we should help with the vaccine as much as possible,” Goodman Community Center CEO and Executive Director Letesha Nelson tells Madison365. “We are a reputable community center that people respect and know where it is. Why can’t we use our space to host something like this?”

Nelson says she got really excited when she was contacted by Dr. Eva Vivian, president of African American Health Network (AAHN) and a professor in the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, to host a COVID education and vaccination clinic. At tonight’s event at Goodman, Dr. Vivian will lead the education and vaccination effort, along with her colleagues in AAHN and students in the UW pharmacy and nursing schools.

Dr. Eva Vivian

“Our intention is to focus on providing education as well as vaccines at various churches and community centers,” said Vivian in a statement. “If we were able to address some of the concerns of the community but then had to refer them to a clinic, they might forget about making that appointment and may not become vaccinated.” 

AAHN will be distributing the Pfizer vaccine in two doses starting at the Goodman Center tonight from 5-7 p.m. There will be three more COVID-19 vaccination events in the coming month. Each event will have a follow-up event a month later where community members can get their second COVID shot.

“For this first event, we will be targeting people closest to the center. We will hopefully be connecting our Lowell students and families as well as our East High family and friends,” Nelson says. “We’re trying to make it our ‘Family and Friends of Goodman’ kind of night. But everyone is welcome to sign up.

“It’s really important that right now we push for as many people to get vaccinated as possible with the right information, too,” she adds. “Because I think there are a lot of myths out there around the vaccination and what it means. There are a lot of people who are afraid to do it.”

Health care professionals, as well as students from the UW schools of nursing and pharmacy, will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the vaccine.

“People on site from the AAHN will be there to talk about some of the myths that are out there, provide information about the vaccine itself, talk to them about side effects,” Nelson says. “We are setting it up so it will be an easily accessible place that you can talk to whomever you need to get the information you need but we can also register you to make sure Wisconsin knows that you got the vaccine that day and schedule you for that second dose.”

Dr. Eva Vivian (second from the left) and the African American Health Network (photo supplied)

The clinics are being funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 Community Outreach Grant, which was launched to increase equity in vaccine distribution throughout the state of Wisconsin. Though the clinics are intended to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the Black community and to those who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, the organizers state that anyone who would like to learn more about the vaccine from health care professionals is welcome to register to receive the vaccine. 

Goodman Community Center Executive Director Letesha Nelson

“This is for everybody and we will have four clinics. While we are going to be targeting certain neighborhoods to try to get them the information they need and to get them out to get the vaccine, this is for everybody,” Nelson says. “If somebody would walk up on the day of and we have the space to take them, we will. 

“As I talk to Dr. Eva [Vivian] about it, it’s all about getting as many people vaccinated as we can so we all are safer,” she adds.

In addition to partnering with the Goodman Center, AAHN will also host information sessions and vaccine clinics with the Lussier Community Education Center, the Triangle Neighborhood Association, the Wexford Apartments and the African American Council of Churches.

Nelson says they would prefer that people register to make sure there is enough staffing there for that particular day. They can do that by calling (608)204-8018.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the people come out for this,” Nelson says. “I’m really excited about this.”