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The Vietnamese Church in Orlando turns into a one-day vaccination middle

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ORLANDO, Florida – St. Philip Phan Van Minh Catholic Church in Orlando will serve as the state COVID-19 vaccination center on Saturday.

It’s a big deal for parishioners.

What you need to know

  • The Catholic Church of St. Philip Phan Van Minh serves as a one-day state vaccination center
  • Officials: About 500 appointments are planned by late Friday. Vaccine supply based on registrations
  • Parishioner: “It’s a blessing to be able to host it directly in a community-oriented environment …”

“I actually worked on the registration,” parishioner Vu Nguyen told Spectrum News 13 on Friday, referring to the registrations last weekend. “I have seen firsthand what it means for the parishioners and the people in our church to be able to host this event.”

St. Philip Phan Van Minh is a Vietnamese church that offers all services in Vietnamese, some also in English for younger members.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County and the Florida Emergency Management Department will be giving vaccinations to pre-registered people there from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Orlando Police issued a traffic notice for the event, saying drivers should avoid the area if possible.

Vaccinations at this location include people aged 65 and over, as well as school staff, fire fighters, and police officers aged 50 and over.

State officials Anna Eskamani and Travaris McCurdy, each representing part of Orange County, are behind the effort.

Among those who helped out with public relations are Shally Wong, a Hong Kong native who works as the special assistant and liaison for Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Ricky Ly, a Vietnamese-American who lives in east Orlando .

“I think this is the first, if only one, event aimed at increasing participation from the Asian-American community,” Ly said in a text message to Spectrum News 13, “so this is great.”

Eskamani noted efforts to make vaccinations available in underserved communities where language barriers, transportation problems, or technical issues could otherwise prevent residents from being vaccinated.

She also pointed out that her legislative district includes Orlandos Mills 50, formerly known as Little Vietnam, which continues to thrive on the strength of Vietnamese and other Asian companies.

“I felt pretty passionate about targeting the Asian-American community more specifically,” Eskamani told Spectrum News 13 on Friday.

Nguyen, 25, an Orlando native and UCF graduate, says he attended St. Philip Phan Van Minh’s Catholic Church all his life. He said seniors in his church have reported unsuccessful efforts to secure appointments at other vaccination sites, including pharmacies that have been delivering the vaccine through state and federal programs.

UCF graduate Vu Nguyen has been a parishioner of the St. Philip Phan Van Minh Catholic Church all his life. (Courtesy Vu Nguyen)

“It’s harder for them to understand what’s going on, get information, and get access to the care they need,” said Nguyen. “It’s been a huge blessing for us to be able to host it right in a community-centric environment where their questions can be answered and where we have direct access to the care they need.”

State representative Eskamani mentioned language barriers and “technological gaps” for elderly residents. She said translators would be helping at church on Saturday.

By late Friday afternoon, she said, about 500 appointments were planned. She said the website would only include the number of doses residents signed up for in advance.

Nguyen expressed relief to other parishioners. He said he and others helped register as members of the Vietnamese Youth Eucharistic Movement last weekend.

“When it comes from their own community,” he said of vaccine recipients, “it’s comforting not only from a health perspective, but also from a spiritual and mental perspective.”

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Janet Smith