Organizations hope to increase vaccinations with events across Jacksonville this weekend

Locals are encouraging others in Duval County to get vaccinated against COVID-19. News4Jax reporter Aaron Farrar lets us here from one mother who wants her near-death experience to be an example for others.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a push to get more people in Duval County vaccinated, several organizations are holding vaccination events in Jacksonville this weekend.

According to nonprofit COVID Act Now, 43% of Duval County is fully vaccinated and 53.5% of people in the county have gotten at least one dose.

Deanna Wheeler is thankful to be alive after a tough bout with COVID-19 in November and early December 2020.

“My daughter and her friend literally put trash bags on, and they got me to the emergency room because I was literally near death at that point,” she said. “I had a 107° fever. I was unresponsive at that time.”

Wheeler went back and forth to the hospital for more than a month, with the final time almost ending her life.

In hopes of preventing her family from having that experience, she took four of her children to get vaccinated.

“I don’t want to cry over any caskets,” Wheeler said she told her kids after she got vaccinated. “[They] saw what I went through firsthand.”

Wheeler’s 19-year-old daughter, Maiysha, was one of the first to get vaccinated at an event hosted by Wayman Ministries on Labelle Street on Saturday.

The event was called “25 for 25.” Anyone between the ages of 12 and 25 who got vaccinated received a $25 gift card to their choice of either Target, Chick-fil-A or Walmart.

“It’s an amount of money that will hopefully defray the cost of someone going into the ICU or someone being on a ventilator. When we think about the medical costs of one person getting COVID-19,” said pastor Mark Griffin, who organized the event.

He told News4Jax 30 people were vaccinated at the event Saturday.

Nearly 7 miles away in Northwest Jacksonville, the Jacksonville alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity teamed up with Florida Blue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations, along with flu and pneumonia shots, on the grounds of the fraternity’s future community achievement center at 3717 Moncrief Road West.

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“Sometimes you have to bring the effort to the community,” said Gregory Flowers, who is a committee member with the alumni chapter of the fraternity.

“It means more healthy individuals in the community are taking care of their families,” said Barry Case with Florida Blue. “They are taking the responsible steps toward healthy living.”

People like Deanna, Maiysha and others hope more people roll up their sleeves.

“If it’s saving lives, let’s save lives,” Deanna said.

The Florida Black Expo is hosting a vaccination event at 1225 West Beaver St. from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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