By Haley Wilson
The Birmingham Times
Charles Barkley, the Leeds native and Auburn and NBA basketball legend, brings his plea for widespread vaccination against COVID-19 to a vaccine rally on today, Aug. 28.
The event, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), will provide walk-up and drive-in vaccines at Legion Field between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“We are hoping to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Tiffany Osborne, Director of Community Engagement for MHRC. “We’re also so excited to be able to partner with Charles Barkley. He has been a friend to us for many years [and has been] supporting our efforts to be able to address health disparities in underserved communities.”
The vaccines are free. Drive-through vaccines will be delivered by a team led by Dr. Celeste Reese-Willis, a family and urgent care physician. Walk-up vaccines will be administered by Alabama Regional Medical Services, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the greater Birmingham area.
Barkley will provide encouragement and support to those getting vaccinated. He will address the attendees at about 11:30 a.m.
“I am grateful that Charles agreed to help us encourage Alabamians to get vaccinated,” said Mona Fouad, director of the UAB MHRC and principal investigator for Alabama CEAL (Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities). “Charles is a longtime supporter of the MHRC who is passionate about addressing health disparities. He brings his unique voice to the urgent need to stop the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the number of vaccinated people in Alabama.”
Vaccines will be delivered by a team led by Celeste Reese-Willis, M.D., a family and urgent care physician. Walk up vaccines will be administered by Alabama Regional Medical Services, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the greater Birmingham area.
Alabama CEAL, a project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a sponsor of the vaccine rally, along with media partners V-94 radio and television station WVTM13.
Food trucks will be on-site and there will be free T-shirts for the first 300 people who are vaccinated. There will be no opportunities for autographs.
Vaccines are safe and effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who is 12 and older is eligible to be vaccinated.
There has been a surge in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Current data show about 90 percent of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. About 190 million people in the United States have been vaccinated but only about 35 percent of Alabamians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.