First Lady brings COVID-19 vaccine tour to Nashville

By: - October 12, 2022 2:59 pm
Nashville Mayor John Cooper introduces First Lady Jill Biden at a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in North Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Nashville Mayor John Cooper introduces First Lady Jill Biden at a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in North Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

First Lady Jill Biden brought the push for new COVID-19 vaccinations to Nashville Wednesday, introducing the #VaxUpAmerica campaign to encourage people 5 and up to take an updated, free vaccine this fall.

“It’s so important that we keep all Americans healthy,” Biden said as she visited a pop-up vaccination clinic at St. James Missionary Baptist Church on 28th Avenue, a community-based partner with the Metro Public Health Department where people received vaccinations. It was one of about 25 visits she’s made as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s vaccination drive.

Biden thanked the church for its role and those administering the vaccines, which are now available for children as young as age 5, rather than age 11. 

“The church is so behind all good things,” she said.

Pastor George Brooks explained that St. James was nearly begging for the vaccine in March 2021 and noted it has been available there nearly every month since then.

Despite contention nationwide over the efficacy of the vaccine and the need for boosters, the Biden Administration contends receiving an updated vaccine protects people against the original COVID-19 virus and the Omicron variant.

The Biden Administration launched its effort to offer free COVID-19 vaccines after the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control took action last month to make a vaccine available that would be similar to a yearly flu shot.

Because of increases in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the past two winters, the Biden Administration contends the “single most important thing” people can do to protect themselves is to get an updated vaccine.

More than 11 million Americans received their updated vaccines in the first five weeks of the new vaccine administration.

Those considered the most vulnerable to COVID-19, adults 65 and over, make up half of those who’ve gotten the new vaccine. 

Evanda McDowell, a retired Spanish teacher from TSU, Whites Creek High and Hillwood High, said she took the new vaccine Wednesday mainly because she’s a cancer survivor.

“I want to get everything I need to prolong my life. I think it’s very important, since the vaccines are available, we do everything we can to preserve our lives,” McDowell said.

Metro Nashville has had some of the best vaccination and survival rates in the nation. In June 2021, when Metro was giving vaccinations for those 55 and older, it had 58% distribution for Caucasions, 53% for Black residents and 80% of Hispanics, according to Dr. Gill Wright, director of Metro Health Department.

“With these types of events, we’re really trying to get the population that is at risk the most, the older population, those who have underlying medical problems,” Wright said.

Metro Nashville’s case fatality rate is .72%, lower than the state rate of 1.19% and the national rate of 1.1% for COVID-19, according to Wright.

Pop-up vaccination sites are available in Metro Nashville daily and can be found on the Health Department’s website at

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.