‘I lost my son … my only child’

With light streaming in the windows of Ninth Street Baptist Church in Covington’s Eastside, recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine at Saturday’s event hold up their cards. (Photo courtesy of NKY Health)

At special vaccination event in Eastside, a reminder of pandemic’s toll 

COVINGTON, Ky. – Some 275 people were given the COVID-19 vaccine at an event the City of Covington and its partners organized in the Eastside community last weekend to ensure that none of its citizens are left behind in the nationwide response to the devastating pandemic.
But Covington Commissioner Ron Washington will never forget the first person that day to receive a vaccine.
She was an elderly woman, maybe in her 70s, Washington told the rest of the Covington Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night’s meeting. She had arrived at the vaccination site – Ninth Street Baptist Church – at 9:30 a.m., even though the event didn’t start until 10 a.m.
After she received her shot and was waiting in the observation area, which was in the church’s sanctuary, Washington handed her an “I got COVID-19 Vaccine” button to wear.
“I’m going to wear this button everywhere,” she announced to the person sitting next to her. “I lost my son to COVID. My only child, I lost to COVID.”
“That was the first person we vaccinated,” Washington said, “so fellow Commissioners, a job well done.”
And then he expounded:
“As we are debating (at this meeting) about all these issues in our city, people have been affected tremendously by this virus, this pandemic that has ravaged our country,” he said. “The fight goes on.”
The City set up the event with help from Blank’s Pharmacy, Rev. Richard Fowler and other members of Ninth Street Baptist, and NKY Health (the Northern Kentucky health department).
People who signed up, primarily from Eastside and surrounding neighborhoods, received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It was a wonderful experience to see those that wanted the vaccination had a place to come that was relatively close and accessible. Whether capable or challenged, all that came had full access,” Rev. Fowler said in a “thank you” letter read by Washington at the meeting.
“This partnership is a true strength for Covington.”
Mayor Joe Meyer credited Greg Blank from Blank’s Pharmacy with helping organize the event from the beginning and agreeing to provide vaccines. Once Ninth Street Baptist signed on as the site and agreed to publicize the event, NKY Health was able to bring in its expertise, organizational skills, and additional supply. The City has provided $1,500 to pay incidental expenses related to special vaccination events.
Meyer said the City has been thrilled to hear Gov. Andy Beshear back its efforts by preaching the need for “equity” in the statewide vaccination effort, particularly during the Governor’s recent visit to another vaccination site in Covington at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.
Meyer said officials are weighing whether another event in the Eastside area is warranted. A separate event geared toward Covington’s burgeoning Latino community will be held March 27 at Esperanza Latino Center at 234 W. Pike St.
“We brought the solution to the people instead of making the people go through impossible lines,” the Mayor said.