Historic Black Denver Church Opens Doors For COVID Vaccination Event

Ahead of the event, the church reached out to congregants and people in the surrounding community via email and Facebook to make appointments. Tyler tells CBS4 the purpose of the event was to make sure Black community members had access to the vaccine.

“We are the ones who are dying and getting sick at higher numbers from this virus, so we felt that because of our tradition of activism and community involvement, that it was a natural partnership between Shorter Community AME Church and UCHealth,” Tyler said.

This week vaccines will open up to more Coloradans, yet there’s a push to close the race and class gap when vaccinating people 70 and up. On Sunday, UCHealth held a clinic at Shorter Community AME Church, the state’s oldest Black church. It was the first time in almost a year many of the parishioners had come through the doors, but rather than attend Sunday service, they received a vaccine.

“We’ve always made it an effort to be not only in the four walls, but outside of the four walls,” said Dr. Timothy Tyler, the church’s pastor.

Dr. Timothy Tyler

According to Tyler, about 250 people received their first dose of the vaccine Sunday and 279 received their second dose.

Data from Denver Public Health shows the Black and Latino communities are behind others in vaccination rates. Tyler said the trust of Black churches can be one of many solutions.

“It’s not so much just hesitancy, but it’s also access,” Tyler said. “What we’ve learned is if you make it accessible then people will be willing to come and get it.”

It’s why Margaret Williams, who hopes to see her new grandchild soon, chose to get her second shot here, instead of one of the other drive-thru or mass vaccination events held around the city over the last few weeks.

“I would rather come here than go through a drive-thru or something like that,” she said. “I feel safer coming to a church.”

For Tyler, years of trust and faith are affording a new kind of service.

“We’ve discovered a way in which we can expand and use this facility and use this church even in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.

Anyone who got their first shot Sunday is already scheduled to get their second dose. Tyler said he hopes to work with UCHealth to host more vaccination events in the near future.

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