Beulah Baptist Church is usually filled with congregants on Sunday mornings, but on Friday, it transformed into a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic for eligible residents of the community.

"I got a call Thursday of last week that we would be a designated site. I said, 'yes,' and a whole lot of people had to go to work," said Pastor Jesse Bottoms of Beulah Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie.

What You Need To Know

  • WMC Health says all 450 appointment slots were filled for the one-day event

  • Pastor Jesse Bottoms says Beulah Baptist Church held educational events to inform the community about the vaccine and why it's safe

  • Additional pop-up vaccine clinics will be held in Newburgh and Peekskill on Saturday

This is just one of 35 community-based pop-up vaccination clinics set up by the state in partnership with local churches, community centers, and hospitals to increase access to Black, Brown, and underserved communities.

This one was organized by Westchester Medical Center.

"This is part of WMCHealth's mission, which is to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to all of our communities within the Hudson Valley," said Elissa Chessari, COO for Northern Region WMC Health.

Bottoms and his wife, Jacquette Bottoms, were one of the first to get their shots on Friday morning, hoping to lead by example in a community that may be skeptical about the vaccine’s safety.

"We had some informational sessions here at the church in our community, and we tried to inform and educate so that our people could make good decisions. We made the decision to take it," Jesse Bottoms said. "We believe it's safe."

Turnout was great. All 450 appointments were filled. That means 450 shots went into the arms of local residents like Teresia Smith of Wappingers Falls, who heard about the clinic through the church.

"Because of all the underlying health issues I have," said Teresia Smith. "I feel that because it was made available, I took advantage of it."

Smith will have to return in 21 days to get a second dose of the vaccine.

For those still considering whether or not to get their shot, Jesse Bottoms has a message.

"The very first opportunity that you have, please take advantage of it," said Pastor Bottoms. "It’s a blessing, and we encourage you to take it the very, very first chance you get."

Additional pop-up vaccine clinics will take place in Newburgh and Peekskill on Saturday.