SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The Third Baptist Church in San Francisco normally seeks to keep hope alive but during the pandemic they’ve been concentrating on just keeping the congregation alive.

“We’re feeding people. We tested people for COVID-19. And now, thank God, we’re able to provide vaccinations,” said senior pastor, Dr. Amos C. Brown.

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By offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one injection, the clinic could better help those who could not easily come in for a second dose. It was big selling point for Shunda Criswell, who was reluctant to get the shot at first.

“But, really, this is a community effort,” she said. “If we’re really, really, really going to come back to normalcy, this is important. And so, I finally talked to myself, along with other friends…I said, go and get the vaccine. That’s being a good neighbor.”

And even though Shunda doesn’t attend 3rd Baptist she, along with all the others, felt more comfortable going to the church than to some mass vaccination site.

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“They have the option to go to other places but they choose to come to a church,” said UCSF Medical Sociologist and church member, Dr. Jonathon Butler. “They choose to come to a faith community, they choose to be around people that look like them. And it just sort of helps in that experience.”

“Even if you don’t go to church every Sunday, people know the experience they’re going to have when the come here for their vaccinations,” said Dr. Malcolm John, founder of the UCSF Black Health Initiative. “So, we’re really excited to be a part of that.”

Actually, it should excite everyone, because the state has prioritized communities of color and those economically underserved. And when vaccination benchmarks are met for those areas, it allows all counties to more quickly transition to a less restrictive “tier.” So it is in everyone’s interest to create a system that people trust and feel comfortable with.

“I think the real need right now is to get these vaccines into the neighborhoods that really need it, in a way that makes it easy for people to get access to these vaccines,” said Dr. John. “That’s the key.”

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Sunday’s vaccination clinic was a partnership with UCSF’s Black Health Initiative and the San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition.