The city of Jacksonville will distribute coronavirus vaccine shots on a first-come-first serve basis Friday and Saturday at the Northside’s Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center.
Mayor Lenny Curry, who has previously expressed frustration with the limited doses made available for distribution by the city, said the move proved that when the city is given the supply, it can mobilize efficiently.
“We received word that we were getting an allotment of vaccine only a few days ago, and we were able to put an efficient operation together within only 48 hours,” Curry said. “By locating a site here in Northwest Jacksonville, we are leveraging the limited allotment we have in a way that has the biggest impact.”
City and state officials have drawn criticism over an early vaccine rollout that left African Americans vaccinated at lower rates than whites.
The city will vaccinate 975 people during the two-day blitz. That’s compared to some 11,000 people who received their first vaccine doses at the Lane Wiley and Mandarin senior centers, which are located in majority-white areas.
Curry acknowledged the small numbers. “While we’re happy to have received this allotment, we need more to truly mitigate risk and ensure the health and safety of our community. I will continue to work with the state of Florida and the Biden Administration to secure the vaccines we need for this city.”
Council member Brenda Priestly Jackson agreed that the move was a good start. “These are 1,950 more than we thought we had. So it may not be optimum numbers, but it is, because it wasn’t anticipated or expected.”
The vaccine is still limited to people ages 65 and older, first responders and medical personnel. People born January through June are invited to come on Friday; those with birthdays in July through December will be eligible on Saturday.
“To ensure our elderly citizens do not have to wait in long lines, we will follow the same system we put in place at our two senior centers that served as vaccine sites. We’ll hand out vouchers that allow people to come back later that same day to receive the vaccine.”
Curry reminded people to bring a photo ID and a signed copy of the screening consent form. Paper copies will be available for those who do not have access to a computer or printer.
The AME Ministers Alliance will offer free transportation to the Brown Senior Center. The JTA is also offering free rides on Route 3 - Moncrief to the community center to people age 65 and up going to be vaccinated. The JTA is also providing direct service through its Northside Readi-Ride Zone and a new Northwest Core ReadiRide Zone. More transportation information is available on JTA’s website.
For those who are nervous about the vaccine’s safety, Council member Priestly Jackson acknowledged the mistrust in the Black community because of not-so-distant events like the Tuskegee experiment. “We confront our history, but that is not what’s happening right now.”
Flocked by other Black community leaders including Council members Ju’Coby Pittman, Reggie Gaffney and Sam Newby, Priestly Jackson said, “We wouldn’t be standing here and we wouldn’t have pushed for this if we didn’t have full faith and confidence in the vaccine.”
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.