Ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, studies show. Even as the vaccine rollout takes place in the U.S., some deprived communities are still being left out.
One Mississippi woman is being praised as “the Mother Theresa of the Mississippi Delta” by locals for her Vaccine Transportation Initiative (VTI) meant to make the vaccine accessible to everyone. Pam Chatman, a retired television journalist, observed some gaps in service for her Cleveland, Mississippi neighbors, and was moved to launch her initiative through her transport business, Boss Lady Workforce Transportation.
So far, she has hosted vaccination pop-ups, transported older residents to vaccination sites, provided home vaccination visits and has educated locals about the vaccine to clear all myths surrounding the exercise.
“We know here in rural Mississippi; a lot of places here do not have internet. So, it was difficult for them to register,” Chatman said.
“We are now going into Black communities taking mobile facilities there and actually meeting the people and serving the people where they are. We’re going into their communities, into their churches, and providing them the vaccine,” she added.
Many locals are testifying about the benefits of Chatman’s Vaccine Transportation Initiative including Melvin Curry, co-owner of Life Savers Assisted Living. Curry works with clients who mostly have underlying conditions and most of them are immobile. He took advantage of Chatman’s services and now his wife, 15 staff members and clients have all been vaccinated.
“It was very smooth. There were no issues as far as our clients. Everything went well,” said Curry.
Chatman has been able to raise $30,000 in donations and nearly 60 people in her community have been vaccinated thanks to her initiative. She is grateful to all the foundations and churches who have helped her idea take flight. She hopes more people get vaccinated because it has come to her realization that many are afraid to ask for help even when they need it. Chatman said she is ready to offer help even before they try asking.
The Mississippi native hopes to take her initiative to other states as well so that families wouldn’t have to worry about how to get to vaccination sites.