Faith communities have a role to play in fighting COVID-19

Scott Johnson, who chairs Bedford County’s COVID-19 Task Force, and the Rev. Jimmy West, who represents the faith-based community on the task force, say that local churches have a key part to play in the continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Church is an important part of life and community in this county,” said Johnson. “That means it’s an important tool for informing, reminding and encouraging our citizens.”

Even though the recent surge in cases has caused some churches to meet electronically, they are still in touch with their members – through live-streamed meetings and worship services, newsletters and in other ways.

Now, as vaccinations have become available, churches can play a key role  in making sure that members 75 and over know about and can sign up for vaccination appointments.

“Our senior citizens are often some of the most dedicated and loyal church members,” said Johnson. “Younger members can help by making sure they know about COVID vaccinations, helping them make appointments, and helping them get to their appointments if transportation is an issue.”

Currently, the vaccine is being offered to those 75 and older as well as first responders and healthcare workers. To help avoid long lines and disappointment, a new appointment system helps ensure that vaccine is available before citizens arrive.

The vaccine is being offered at Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center, 2119 Midland Road in Shelbyville, which is also the site for drive-through COVID-19 testing.

Citizens may make an appointment online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/bedford-covid19-priority-list. This link is also available by clicking “COVID VACCINE” in the top menu at the bedfordcountytn.gov web page. They can also call 866-442-5301 to make an appointment. If there is no vaccine available, the caller will receive a recorded message. If vaccine is available, the caller will be connected to a health department staffer who will make an appointment for the caller to be vaccinated. Under this new system, vaccine will be administered in a drive-through setting, without the need for patients to get out of the car.

A high call volume is expected, and so those who are unable to get through are asked to remain patient and try calling again later.

In addition to vaccinations, drive-through testing will be available, without an appointment, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-11 a.m. At other times, take-home tests will be offered.

To track which phase of the vaccination process Bedford County is currently in, go to https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/county-vaccine-information/. To determine in which phase you’ll be eligible for vaccination, go to https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/

“Healing and compassion are major themes of the Gospel story,” said Johnson, “and we are relying on our churches to help Bedford County, Tennessee, America and the world heal from this terrible pandemic.”

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