A clinic opening at Bethlehem Baptist Church will be the fourth county clinic to target a population that may be reluctant to get vaccinated or face barriers to getting an appointment.By Nicole Ford

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) – Gov. Tom Wolf toured a vaccination clinic in McKeesport Wednesday afternoon and discussed vaccine equity as the state accelerates the rollout.

McKeesport is just the beginning of the Mon Valley, but it’s a community that falls into the underserved category.

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“Folks of poverty, folks with addiction, homelessness,” said state Sen. Jim Brewster, who represents Pa’s 45th District, plus the people who are facing barriers to get a vaccine. County leaders hope that will soon change.

“There is a reason why churches are important for our vaccine rollout. They are gathering places that provide comfort and shelter,” said Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen.

On Wednesday, Bethlehem Baptist Church opened its doors as the county’s fourth vaccination site.

“These sites serve smaller populations specifically to target communities and individuals that have not yet got vaccinated and should be vaccinated and might have skepticism on the rollout,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.

The governor toured that new McKeesport clinic as it softly opened to the community. He said he’s hopeful if the opportunity is in more neighborhoods, more people will roll up their sleeves.

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“We must continue to work to get the vaccine to the people who need it most and because due to life circumstances, have the biggest obstacles in getting it. We need to keep holding community clinics here and in areas that have historically been overlooked,” said state Rep. Austin Davis, who represents Pa’s 35th District.

After a slow start, Wolf touted the state’s progress in getting shots into arms. More than 2 million Pennsylvanians have been fully vaccinated, and more than 35% of the state’s eligible population has gotten first doses.

Wolf says there’s more work to do, especially with equity in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“While we can and we have made systemic changes in terms of the state level to improve our vaccine rollout, we rely on local vaccine providers and counties like Allegheny County to make the efforts that they’ve made, targeted efforts that we just can’t do at the state level,” said Wolf.

By April 19, all Pennsylvanians will be eligible for a vaccine. That’s when Wolf says he’ll be getting in line for his.

As for easing restrictions, Wolf called it a race between vaccines and the surging cases. “I think the vaccine is winning,” he said.

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He also weighed in on vaccine passports, saying, “The state is not considering anything like that at this point.”