AME Zion Church in Syracuse hosts vaccine pop-up site


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For Pastor Daren Jaime of the People’s AME Zion Church in Syracuse, he’s proud to have the doors always open. This time, it will be for a COVID-19 vaccination pop-up site.

“It was humbling to hear that we got the call that they wanted to use our church to be able to do this. But we do know in our community, that within the Black and Hispanic communities, that COVID has had a significant impact in deaths and morbidity and so to have an ability to be able to have a vaccination at a place where the community has been disproportionally affected is great,” Pastor Jaime said.

And New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo says that’s exactly the goal with many of the pop-up locations across the state: To make the vaccine available to the hardest hit communities of color. 

“Blacks died twice the rate of whites. Hispanics died 1.5 times the rate of whites. We now have a vaccine that will save lives and that will only save lives if we take it,” Cuomo said.

And many are ready to take that step. On Monday, 250 vaccines will be administered at the church, mostly to seniors.

Looking ahead, there aren’t any other pop-ups scheduled at the church, but Pastor Jaime says he’s ready if and when he receives that second call.

“This vaccine is not only much needed for our community, but for our city, for our state, and ultimately, for our country,” Pastor Jaime said.

In three weeks, the church will be open again for those who registered to get their second dose. All spots have been filled and there are no more appointments available.

During Sunday’s morning service, Governor Cuomo made a few remarks about the vaccination program. You can watch the entire service below. Cuomo’s remarks come about 40 minutes into the service.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks to The People’s AME Zion Church in Syracuse is available below:

Thank you, Reverend Jaime, for that warm introduction. I’m very grateful to you for your friendship, your leadership, your service, on the New York Health Equity Task Force and New York Forward Interfaith Council and the Governor’s Interfaith Advisory Council. Thank you for what you’ve done.

It’s good to be in a new year and starting a new day. I have high hopes for New York in this new year. But as the good book says, we all have to do our part. The COVID beast is still among us, and has been for 330 days. Some people say that they are fatigued in dealing with COVID. Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. This is a war, and if we tire before the enemy, the enemy wins, it’s that simple.

Some people aren’t afraid of COVID. To them, I say don’t be cocky about COVID. 144 people died yesterday from COVID.

COVID was low tide in America. It exposed the racism and the discrimination and the injustice that laid on the bottom of America. Blacks died at twice the rate of whites. Hispanics died at one and a half times the rate of whites.

We now have a vaccine that will save lives, but it will only save lives if we take it. While the vaccine is scarce across the country, I am working as hard as I can to get it here for you.

I will fight to deliver it, and we will make it available through churches, community groups, public housing in many different ways to make sure it is accessible to the hardest hit communities of color.

The second issue is where I need your help. We all need to trust the vaccine.

I know there is skepticism about government and about the Trump Administration in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t trust many actions of the Trump Administration. But this vaccine was reviewed by the best doctors and hospitals in New York State and it is safe.

My mother, who is 65 plus, will take it.

I have my daughters, who I love more than life itself, they will take it when they are eligible. And I will take it also. You should take it too.

The bottom line is COVID can kill you, and the vaccine can save you. Let’s save lives, and let’s rebuild this state back better and stronger than ever before.

Together, I know we can do it.

Thank you so much for having me, and God bless.

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