This fall, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation launched the Vaccine Incentive Program to fund and support the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to historically disadvantaged communities, offering the potential of covering the cost of vaccination incentives, event space costs, event amenities, and food.
The following report showcases the impact of this program, by highlighting the success of a recent clinic held in Bemidji. Information for this story comes from the grant report, which was submitted to NMF after the event was held.
Funding is still available through the Vaccine Incentive Program! Learn more about the program HERE!
Peoples Church in Bemidji hosted its second COVID-19 vaccine clinic on November 19, having secured funding through NMF’s Vaccine Incentive Program to assist in covering its costs.
Twenty-five people were already lined up and waiting by the time the event opened. In addition to the vaccines themselves, the church offered a hot meal as well, having set up tables and chairs under tents to serve all interested visitors. All staff and volunteers were masked and everyone was asked to sanitize their hands as they entered the tent. Masks were available for those who did not have them.
“While Julia and Carol Priest served sloppy joes, pasties were available wrapped in tinfoil in a warmer,” the church reported to NMF. “Hot coffee, fruit, juices, chips, soda, water, and a few packaged salads and sandwiches were on the tables for people to take. Pastor Bob Kelly got a fire going in our fire pit for people to sit by, warm themselves, and talk.”
When the nurses and volunteers were ready, a volunteer coordinated entry into the church, allowing three people indoors at one time. It was November, but it was 37 degrees and sunny. Some people stood in line for 45 minutes.
“Many people came back for seconds on food, especially our homeless and very low-income community members, who loaded their pockets for later,” the church reported. “We encouraged people to take as much as they wanted. There were also tables set up with socks, gloves, and coats available (for the taking).”
The event was scheduled to end at 4:30 p.m. but the nurses and volunteers remained on site beyond then, giving the last vaccination just before 6 p.m.
Beltrami County Public Health vaccinated 64 people, including 15 first doses, 13 second doses, and 36 booster doses. $3,850 in cash incentives were shared with our community members.
“Peoples Church was honored to share a hot meal with at least 75 adults and children,” the church reported. “There was great fellowship around the outdoor tables and the fire. While many participants were well-known to us, there were also many who were new to our community.”
In closing, the church expressed its gratitude to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Beltrami County Health staff and volunteers, and Sanford Health Community Health.
“This vaccine clinic presents a model for the best of what public health can offer, bringing a community of diverse people together in a comforting location to share in the direct health care service of vaccination as well as the supporting health services of good food and good company,” the church reported. “We have been blessed to be part of it. Chi-miigwech!”