Vaccines come to Skeels community: ‘I want to make sure people of color get their shots’

Rose Ferraro, the health department’s nursing director, prepares a bandage after administering the Covid-19 vaccine to Frank Hairston of the Portage County NAACP at the Skeels-Mathews Community Center on Tuesday. Michael Indriolo/The Portager

The health department partnered with the center to make the Covid-19 vaccine more accessible to the predominantly Black community the center serves

The Portage County health department vaccinated about 42 people against Covid-19 at the Skeels-Mathews Community Center in Ravenna Township Tuesday, making the vaccine more accessible to the predominantly Black community in that area.

“I want to make sure people of color get their shots,” said Frank Hairston of the Portage County NAACP. “I want to make sure people in my community have the opportunity. Some of them feel more comfortable coming to the community center than going to a different site.”

Luther and Marie Fortson, 77 and 76, received their shots Tuesday. Luther Fortson said he’s glad the vaccine clinic opened in his community because some people in the area don’t have the means of transportation to travel elsewhere in the county, and aren’t active online to see when upcoming clinics open.

“This is an effort to broaden the availability of Covid-19 vaccine in Portage County as well as addressing vaccine hesitancy in the Black community,” the health department wrote in a press release.

Hairston, with the help of the center’s director, Sharon Sanders, and the health department, hopes to organize another vaccination clinic in the community soon.

This article was produced through a reporting partnership with the Collaborative News Lab @ Kent State University.