This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes and wife Sheryl Lee Ralph-Hughes are hosting five vaccination clinics throughout West Philadelphia as part of their #StopTheVirus campaign.
“This is about people’s health and well being,” Sheryl Lee Ralph-Hughes said.
The Hughes family are known to promote and encourage healthy lifestyles but more importantly, they’ve been advocates for better healthcare treatments and healthcare practices, especially as it pertains to people of color, whether it’s HIV, AIDS, cancer, or autism, and now with COVID-19.
Ralph-Hughes said she was fueled to encourage people to become vaccinated because she found that people don’t value themselves enough to take action for themselves at times.
“They want to act as if they’re not important enough to have the great things in life like great health, and great healthcare and that starts by caring for yourself,” she said.
“So now we have a situation in the United States, in Philadelphia, where we have more vaccines and people willing to take advantage of the steps needed to live a healthy, happier life. And, my God. Sometimes we think, what more needs to be done for people to realize that especially black folks realize just how important they are.”
The “May Day Challenge” vaccination clinic sites include the Bluford Charter School, High School of the Future, Spectrum Health Service, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Lamberton School will a host vaccination site on May 1 and May 2 from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
“This section of the city [West Philadelphia] has high COVID rates, but low vaccine rates. So we needed to, jump right into this section, and get folks vaccinated, but also, always utilize the process of making sure that folks know that they can be bigger than themselves and be a messenger,” Hughes said.
The Hughes family launched the #StopTheVirus campaign in February to help address vaccine hesitancy in Philadelphia. The vaccine clinics are a culmination of their efforts.
“As Sheryl and I were together during the pandemic and understanding that we’re all in this together and we’ve all got to do our part we just decided to start utilizing the voice that we have, and the resources that we have access to, to build on whatever else may be going on,” Hughes said.
The couple was also motivated to become hands on and directly involved in the vaccination process due to what some would consider a botch job that the previous administration had done with rolling out an effective vaccination plan.
“[They] made it bad for people, and we needed to make sure that we could play our role instead of complaining, be a part of a process that got the right message and got the right services out to folks so we started stop the virus, and we’re now continuing on the message of adding the real services to make sure people get that vaccine,” Hughes said.
More than 1,000 people have registered for the weekend vaccine clinics. Community members can sign up for vaccine appointments ahead of the vaccine clinics in the 7th Senatorial District this weekend on Senator Hughes’ website or using the phone numbers provided on Sen. Hughes’ website.
DJs have been arranged for every location.
“We got music happening and a little food and, and just a lot of good positive vibrations that we’re trying to get out to the community,” Hughes said.
“I’m a believer, Sheryl and I believe that we’re not losers. We can win on all of this stuff, we just have to apply ourselves, and create that mindset amongst people that we are winners. Once we do that, we can do anything, we can beat COVID and we can do so much more.”
“We don’t need essential Black people dropping like flies. We don’t need essential Black and brown people living with long haul, long term effects of COVID-19. Take the vaccine. Help yourself, even a little bit,” Ralph-Hughes said.