Several from the Tallassee community turned out Sunday to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine thanks to Sarah Covington CRNP with Covington Healthcare at God's Congregational Holiness Church.

"My focus today is to give as many vaccines as possible to an underserved community which is primarily going to be for African Americans who are at higher risk of chronic illness and who die almost two to one versus Caucasians and other ethnic groups from coronavirus," Covington said.

Council Damian Carr said free vaccine distributions like the one held Sunday in the Jordanville neighborhood are essential and he hopes people in the community will utilize this resource.

"It's very important," Carr said. "I think people need to come to take advantage of this because this disease is growing throughout our country, throughout our neighborhoods. It's very serious."

Positive COVID-19 cases have been on the increase and the death toll from the virus continues to climb.

"In America, we will hit 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 probably by the end of tomorrow," she said.

Nationwide there are 24 million reported cases of COVID-19. There are over 423,000 reported cases across the state and more than 6,000 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in Alabama.

"The deaths do not include the people who were seriously ill, hospitalized, on a ventilator, and survived," Covington said.

Even those who have had the virus and recovered may not ever fully recover from the effects it can leave behind.

"Some are left with chronic problems such as lung or heart disease afterward from the damage from coronavirus," Covington said.

Because symptoms of COVID-19 can go undetected, Covington said wearing a protective mask is an effective defensive measure that protects against the spread of the virus.

"When I am going out and I am with people that I do not live in my home with, I need to wear a mask because I may not realize I am contagious and when I breathe I could be spreading this virus and not even have symptoms. People are contagious days before they have any symptoms," she said.

There may be some mild side effects from the vaccine, such as an allergic reaction.

"It can cause your body to be sore, your muscles to ache," Covington said. "You may have a low-grade fever. That does not mean that you have the COVID-19 virus from this vaccine. What it does mean, is your body is building immunity."

The COVID-19 vaccine is new and some may be skeptical of taking it, but Covington said even if an allergic reaction does occur, it can be managed.

"No one has died from the vaccine. There have been allergic reactions but those have been rare. Even in those allergic reactions, there are medications that can be used to safely control that." she said. 

Covington said she will be in Macon County next week to distribute more vaccines.

"Next Sunday, I expect to be at a congregation in Tuskegee," she said.

Details for next week's vaccine distribution are still limited. Please follow The Tallassee Tribune for more information.