Open Arms Healthcare Center (OAHCC) is determined to vaccinate Mississippi against COVID-19. On Saturday, October 2, the organization hosted a vaccine drive at the parking lot of Hardy Street Baptist Church in downtown Hattiesburg. As a bonus, each of those who received the vaccine from Open Arms got a $50 gift card for both the first and second doses, meaning $100 in rewards for full vaccination.

The Hattiesburg drive was sponsored by Mississippi INBRE at The University of Southern Mississippi and My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., two of OAHCC’s sister organizations. For more information about future vaccination drives, check with the official Open Arms Healthcare Center website here.

In total, OAHCC has vaccinated over 1,200 Mississippians since August 2021, organizing more than 15 drives across Mississippi. Open Arms Healthcare Center hopes the $50 gift cards will act as an incentive for those who are still hesitant about receiving the vaccine.

Lessening vaccine hesitancy and ensuring the safety of residents across the state is a waiting game, according to Dr. June Gipson, director of Open Arms, and OAHCC will be there when community members change their minds.

“There are real reasons that people don’t want this. You have to be patient, and you have to allow the community to start to change their minds,” she said. “So, our way of doing it is to not give up. We’re going to sustain this and we’re going to make sure that if someone needs the vaccination, we’re going to be there for them.”

As many Mississippians may not have the resources to drive to a healthcare clinic themselves, Open Arms brings vaccine access into the community.

Dr. Gipson explains, “People can’t always get to the clinics, the hospital, they can’t always get to the places where they can receive the vaccination. So, it’s really important to make sure that we go into the community and meet them where they are.”

Total vaccination of over 1,200 Mississippians is no small feat, and OAHCC will continue to give access to those communities that may lack the resources themselves.