By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
One day ahead of the official opening of the A.H. Parker High School community vaccination site, Birmingham City Schools (BCS) Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan on Wednesday received his COVID-19 vaccine shot along with some school employees.
“We know one of the best ways to end this pandemic is to ensure that everybody gets vaccinated,” said Sullivan. “As part of Birmingham City Schools, we want to be part of the solution, that’s why we opened the doors of Parker High School . . . for the community to have an opportunity to have a vaccine within the city.”
Beginning with the official opening on Thurs. Feb. 11, initial hours of operation at Parker High School will be 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. UAB plans to expand hours as additional vaccine supply is received from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
UAB is working with community leaders to identify people who may not have access to resources like personal transportation, smartphones, computers and internet to offer a limited number of unscheduled appointments each day. These are both walk-up and drive-through appointments and are for individuals in the community surrounding Parker High School.
“We wanted to take the vaccination to show to our public that it is safe, we’re confident in it and to also encourage our educators to get them vaccinated,” Sullivan said.
Darrell Hudson, principal at Parker, said the building has always been more than a school in the community.
“We made it available for our staff today to receive the vaccination but also to the neighborhood leaders and other individuals in the community,” he said. “For individuals to walk here without an appointment and get registered, it is truly a blessing for not only the school but for the community and the City of Birmingham.”
Cornelia Davis, Career Academy Coordinator at Parker, said the vaccine gives her a peace of mind.
“I interact with all students in the building … getting this shot has really helped ease my mind as far as being around people [although] I still need to wear my mask and social distance,” she said.
Sarah Nafzinger, M.D., assistant vice president of Clinical Support Services at UAB, said “shots in the arm” is the best way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. “ . . . to say we are eager to get these vaccines out is an understatement,” she said. “Equity is core to UAB’s strategy to put this pandemic behind us and we cannot emphasize this enough. UAB takes very seriously our responsibility to break down barriers that cause health disparities so that we are all working to give underserved individuals the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said the goal is to make clinics accessible across the county, especially in underserved areas so that everyone has fair access to vaccines and that there are no barriers.
“We are going to go out and educate the community, we’ll even hang door knockers on their doors with a phone number they can call to register for the vaccine,” she said.
The Parker site — the third community vaccination site to be brought online by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and UAB Medicine, joins UAB Hospital-Highlands downtown and the Hoover Met — open for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Vaccination appointments may be requested online at www.uabmedicinevaccine.org. Once a registration form is submitted, no further communication will come from UAB until there is an appointment time available.
Parker is a collaborative effort by the UAB and UAB Medicine, the City of Birmingham, BCS and Jefferson County. Sullivan and Parker High School employees received vaccinations as a test run in preparation for Thursday’s public opening.