By Melissa Stough
On March 19, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania partnered with the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and vaccinated over 200 people with the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, what set this vaccine clinic apart was the community center’s emphasis on people who identify as LGBTQ+ and also qualify as 1A participants and/or individuals who are HIV/AIDS positive.
When asked how future vaccine clinics at the center will impact the Greater Lehigh Valley’s LGBTQ+ community, Adrian Shanker, Bradbury-Sullivan’s Founder and Executive Director, replied, “As a historically marginalized and minoritized population, LGBTQ people experience many barriers to inclusive and accessible health care. That’s why Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center offered LGBTQ COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Many of the people who received their vaccines through the center are LGBTQ, and a significant number are trans or non-binary. The COVID-19 vaccine is essential, and we want to ensure that LGBTQ people can access it.”
“We can envision a future after the COVID-19 pandemic, but to get there, our community needs to be willing to receive the vaccine. We look forward to resuming indoor, in-person programs in the future, and we know that this future is not too far off,” Shanker said in relation to how the clinic represents the future of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.
Shanker also discussed the role of health equity in the work of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and its importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without question, the greatest health challenge before us today is the COVID-19 pandemic. We have centered health equity in our programs and advocacy work throughout the pandemic to fight for data collection that includes the LGBT community, prioritization of people living with HIV for the COVID-19 vaccine, delivery of sexual health during COVID-19 information and much more,” Shanker said.
Finally, Shanker was asked what members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies can do to promote the safety and wellbeing of others during COVID-19.
“We don’t need to look back too far in history to remind ourselves that LGBTQ people have always needed to be our own healthcare advocates. Continue to wear masks, get vaccinated as soon as it’s available for you and encourage friends and family to do the same,” Shanker said.
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, partnered with LVHN, is adding a second vaccine clinic, which will occur on April 2. According to Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s announcement, the second clinic will once again be “prioritizing LGBTQ+ folx in Phase 1A.” KU students, faculty and staff can connect with Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center for programs, fundraising initiatives and volunteer opportunities by visiting www.bradburysullivancenter.org.