Corona church becomes pop-up vaccine site with help from Queens congresswoman

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocated for a vaccine pop-up site at First Baptist Church in Corona in February. (Photo by Corey Torpie)

Last month, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez successfully advocated for the state to place a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine site at First Baptist Church in Corona.

On Feb. 28, 1,000 vaccines were distributed and 500 administered at the community church that mainly serves the Corona and East Elmhurst neighborhoods, which are some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic and are currently some of the most under-vaccinated in the city.

In Corona’s 11368 ZIP Code, about 4 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, and in East Elmhurst’s 11369 ZIP Code, about 7 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, according to city data.

First Baptist Church Rev. Patrick Young said “vaccination is the way we are going to eradicate this virus,” in a video shared by Ocasio-Cortez’s team.

Inside First Baptist Church’s vaccine pop-up site in February. (Photo by Corey Torpie)

A community member said they were glad when the vaccine became available and felt “great about coming to a place” that they knew and “is like home.”

For months, the church has provided COVID relief to the community by hosting a food pantry where they serve more than 1,500 families a week, and by hosting COVID testing and flu vaccines.

“First Baptist and Rev. Patrick Young have been a lifeline to many of our families in Corona and East Elmhurst during COVID,” Team AOC’s Faith Outreach Coordinator Jonathan Soto said. “I applaud all the work they have done to provide support and resources to their neighbors and congregation, and for providing a trusted space where the community can get tested and now vaccinated.”

Ocasio-Cortez and her team previously partnered with First Baptist Church to encourage New Yorkers to get tested, and have directed $17,000 from their COVID-19 mutual aid fundraiser to support First Baptist’s food distribution program.

The Bronx and Queens representative recently joined fellow Queens Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in urging the city to bring COVID-19 vaccine sites to where seniors live in several Queens locations.