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Urban League of Greater Madison, community partners to host free COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday

Urban League of Greater Madison CEO Dr. Ruben Anthony gets his COVID-19 shot.

The Urban League of Greater Madison, along with multiple community partners including SSM Health, will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday, May 25, 2-7 p.m.

“We expect to be able to give out 250 shots that are open to everybody in the community for those who are 12 years and older as long as they have permission from their parents,” Dr. Ruben Anthony, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, tells Madison365.  

This event is a partnership between the Urban League, SSM Health, NAACP Dane County, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Fountain of Life, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, and Worker Justice Wisconsin. Community members attending the event will be getting the Pfizer shot and asked to come back at a later date for the second shot.

Stark racial disparities persist in vaccinations, state-level CDC data shows, and that is part of the impetus for Tuesday’s event. Kaiser Health News’s analysis shows that only 22% of Black Americans have gotten a shot.

“When you look at the numbers – people tout Wisconsin as one of the best in the nation at getting vaccinated – 67 percent have gotten shots. But when you focus in on African Americans, only 26 or 27 percent have gotten shots,” Anthony says. “So there is a whole lot of resistance to getting COVID shots and we know that there is a whole lot of historical mistrust whether it be the Tuskegee studies or other studies where African-Americans have been experimented on.

“There have been a lot of urban myths about the vaccines and then the Johnson & Johnson thing did not help,” Anthony adds. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot was paused due to serious, potentially life-threatening blood clots in six women. However, a federal investigation gave it a clean bill of health and the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend the use of Johnson & Johnson.)   “It made people more retrenched about getting the shots.”

The Urban League has launched a vaccination campaign called “Believe It.”

“We got money from the Department of Health and Social Services with the state [of Wisconsin] and the Urban League is engaged in a statewide campaign with the Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Urban Leagues in this ‘Believe It’ campaign,” Anthony says. “Believe what we hear about the risk of not getting the shot. 

“African Americans and the BIPOC communities have had higher rates of infection and death from COVID-19. So believe it,” he adds. “We have to take the shot. If we don’t, we’re not only putting ourselves at risk, we’re putting our families, neighbors, and co-workers at risk.”

Anthony says that he has had family members who were infected by COVID-19 including his oldest son and his sister.

“We had a family member who died from COVID, so for me, you have to believe the statistics when they tell you how sick you’re going to get and the probability of dying if you don’t get this shot,” he says. “As much as we are afraid to trust, we have to believe that this shot is the best thing to do.

“Not getting the shot is a bigger threat than getting the shot,” he adds.

Walk-ins are welcome and there is no ID required and no insurance needed for the free COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday.

“The shot will be given out inside, but outside we will have a DJ [DJ Andre] Pepsi-sponsored drinks,” Anthony says.

The second dose will be administered on June 15, back at the Urban League.

“People who get the shot, we’re going to ask them to come back for the second one that will be administered on June 15,” Anthony says. “We are urging people to share the news with their family and their neighbors and just stop in. You don’t have to make an appointment; just stop in and check it out.”


Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park Street, will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday, May 25, 2-7 p.m.  RSVP is preferred, but not required.