Boys & Girls Club celebrates Juneteenth with free COVID-19 vaccine event

Event starts at 9 a.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. – On Juneteenth, several organizations in Orlando are partnering to host a COVID-19 vaccine event to encourage everyone to get vaccinated but in particular, minority communities.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday the Boys & Girls Club at 700 South Lakeland Ave. will host the vaccination event.

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One of the organizers, Val Baker, president of the Orlando Chapter of The Links Incorp., said they will have incentives to encourage people to come out and get a shot.

“This is for us, and on Juneteenth let’s celebrate Black lives by being at this center and getting the shot,” said Baker.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.

Baker said the first 100 people to arrive will get a $10 gift card.

She said they will also have other giveaways, including packages with 20-pounds of food.

Baker said the site will offer both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Currently, in Orange County, about 56,000 Black residents have been vaccinated as of June 2, out of almost 649,000 people throughout the county, according to Florida Department of Health vaccine data.

Baker said organizers selected the location to help get the vaccine out into a community that has been underserved.

She said holding the event on Juneteenth is significant.

“President Biden has just signed a bill to make the holiday of Juneteenth, and we are having our event and saving Black lives from COVID on Juneteenth,” Baker said.

On Thursday, Biden signed into law a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday. The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to send the bill to Biden, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously the day before.

Baker said they are hosting another vaccination event on Saturday, June 26, at the UCF and Valencia College’s downtown campus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.