By: Amorita Hudson-Smith
Although data published by Harris County Public Health for Harris County and the City of Houston shows that cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are low, I am advocating that people of all ages continue to stay informed about the challenges this virus can create for them and their loved ones. I am also advocating for vaccinations and boosters, especially for uninsured members of at-risk communities in and around Houston.
Leaders of faith-based homes are in a strong position to provide care for their members on a spiritual level as well as a physical level. Houses of worship, especially those based in at-risk communities in Greater Houston, are also well-positioned to host pop-up vaccination clinics and to encourage their members, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools, and businesses to participate. The church with which I am affiliated, St. Andrews United Methodist Church has partnered in recent months with Harris County Public Health and The Institute for Spirituality and Health to provide COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots for adults and children. I am asking that other churches, temples, and synagogues consider doing the same!
Our small church is located at 6235 Maybell Street in Houston (77091). We have a congregation of about 100 members. These pop-up clinics have been very well received, with about 85 to 100 individuals receiving vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu. We provided $25 gift cards as an incentive funded by the FaithHealth Vaccine Initiative at the Institute for Spirituality and Health. We have also ensured those who wanted a vaccine or booster that they did not need to show proof of insurance. We received very positive feedback from congregation members who expressed gratitude for the ease of access to these public health resources.
For others who want to host a free vaccine clinic or speaker event, the Institute for Spirituality and Healths’ FaithHealth Vaccine Initiative is ready and able to provide information and licensed health professionals who are qualified to administer all COVID-19 and Flu Vaccines. For more information please visit www.faithandvaccines.org or call (713) 797-0600 EXT. 5 to speak with Mojisola Delano, ISH FaithHealth project coordinator.
As one who has been infected with COVID-19 four times, and as one who is diligent about being regularly vaccinated and boosted, I offer these recommendations:
- Don’t be afraid of the vaccine or booster. Being vaccinated and boosted will help those who test positive for COVID-19 experience fewer adverse health effects.
- Take care of yourself. Self-care and good nutrition boost your body’s ability to fight infection. Each of us can seek to enhance our immune system through nutrition, sleep, exercise, and mind-body practices. The Institute for Spirituality Health provides FREE mind-body skills group classes every Wednesday. https://www.
- Educate yourself about COVID-19, its risks, symptoms, short-term and long-term impacts. COVID-19 affects everyone differently, and one never knows how this virus will affect them until they actually become sick. We can also reduce our exposure to large groups if we are at risk or are concerned about getting COVID-19.
I believe that healthy communities thrive. I am grateful to St. Andrews United Methodist Church, Harris County Public Health, and the Institute for Spirituality and Health for supporting our congregation and adults and children in our neighborhood by offering free vaccines and boosters. And I am thankful to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Vaccine Initiative for making this possible.
About Amorita Hudson-Smith
Amorita Hudson-Smith is a community activist who promotes the health and well-being of people of color in Houston. She is also a chaplain and lay minister at St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Houston. Hudson-Smith has been an ambassador with the City of Houston Department of Health for several years. Hudson-Smith previously served as a hospital administrator before her retirement. She can be reached at [email protected].