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Clinic in Edmonds provides COVID-19 vaccines for underserved communities

The St. Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Church partnered with the African Leaders Health Board to give out 300 doses of the vaccine for East African communities.

EDMONDS, Wash. — With COVID-19 vaccine makers rolling out more supply to meet the demand, much of the emphasis has shifted to large vaccination sites and getting as many people there as possible. But there is also a push to get the vaccine to smaller, underserved communities using a different approach. 

The St. Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Edmonds partnered with the African Leaders Health Board Saturday to provide 300 doses of the vaccine. The small vaccine clinic was less about targeting the masses and more about targeting those who might be missed.

"The African community, in particular in the diaspora and in the Pacific Northwest, they need the vaccine," said Federal Way nurse Pedro Muigai. "They've been affected like anyone else. They need the vaccine but you still find that people are fearful."

Muigai works in Pierce County, but drove to Snohomish County Saturday to use his nursing skills to help administer shots.

"We are leading by example, we’ve taken the shots ourselves, we’ve been educated and now we’re passing the shots to others. We want them to not fear," he said.

Muigai said he's able to answer questions and calm people's concerns. He also made videos for social media to help with further outreach efforts. 

Bishop Markos got his COVID-19 vaccines previously at similar clinics, which he said has helped build trust. Through a translator, he implored more in the community to get the vaccine. 

"I also took the vaccine, both the doses and nothing happened to me. I trusted the science because God created man's knowledge," he said. 

The Bishop said he opened up the church because he wanted to protect the community and felt it was important to set a good example.

Organizers said these smaller clinics need to be rolled out into more communities around the state to reach those that can't get to the big sites or simply don’t feel comfortable. 

"We need to break those barriers: language, trust issues, so when we provide those clinics to diverse communities people feel comfortable, it’s very important," said Fanaye Amsalu.

Kojo Oware works a corporate job but has volunteered at a few clinics, hoping he can help dispel some of the fear and encourage more people to get the shot and protect the community. 

He said helping protect people is fulfilling. "You see on their face and you know it's going to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our community."

Another clinic is planned for the month of May and they’re hoping to continue with their education and outreach until they’ve helped everyone who needs the vaccine.