COVID-19: Seniors turned away at St. Matthew Baptist Church vaccination site after not making appointments

Jacksonville, FL. — Seniors were turned away at St. Matthew Baptist Church Sunday morning after they showed up for their COVID-19 vaccinations without an appointment.

St. Matthew Baptist Church is one of several across the state serving as a vaccination site.

According to the state of Florida’s emergency management division, the church had 500 vaccines by appointment only.

“I’m getting ready to be 70,” Larry Henderson said. “Stood out here in the cold! In the cold!”

Henderson told Action News Jax he waited outside all morning, only to be told he wouldn’t be getting vaccinated.

“It’s always to the Black community. Why in the F do we have to suffer?” Henderson added.

St. Matthew is one of the first churches in the state to administer vaccines as part of an initiative to increase access in communities of color and underserved communities.

On Saturday, Action News Jax talked with RB Holmes, who’s spearheading the initiative, along with the church’s pastor, Reverend George Price.

They both said the church wouldn’t be turning anyone 65 and older away while supplies lasted.

“I said, ‘Pastor, what do I need?’ He said bring yourself, he didn’t tell me about an appointment or anything,” Eric Wilson said while he was waiting in line.

Action News Jax watched as several seniors showed up in line, some with appointments, and others without appointments.

“So these people are standing out here for nothing,” Harry Webster said.

Jason Mahon with the state of Florida’s emergency management division told Action News Jax the site at St. Matthew Baptist Church is by appointment only, and that the state will be trying to reach out to those who showed up without appointments, to schedule them appointments for the future.

For Henderson, though, that’s not enough.

“We get to North Florida and they do the hokey-doke to us,” Henderson said.