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Rewatch: OKC church, health agency partner for virtual Spanish-language COVID seminar

Bill Pruett [The Oklahoman Archives]
Bill Pruett [The Oklahoman Archives]

A south Oklahoma City church is partnering with a local health agency to offer a virtual COVID-19 vaccine seminar geared for the Latino community.

The seminar, set for 1 p.m. Saturday, will be presented in Spanish via St. James the Greater Catholic Church's Facebook page. Carla Ponce, bilingual community outreach specialist for the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, will present information about the COVID-19 vaccine, with the Rev. Cristobal De Loera, St. James' associate pastor, participating as well.

Molly Fleming, the city-county health department's public information officer, said the event is being held to convey to the Hispanic community how important it is to get the vaccine.

She said the health agency has had a good working relationship with the church, 4201 S McKinley, for awhile and most recently partnered together to conduct COVID-19 testing at the house of worship.

Fleming said the event essentially will be a conversation discussing myths and truths about the COVID-19 vaccine, with Ponce countering any misconceptions about the vaccine with helpful health information.

How to register to take the vaccine and sign up for an appointment through the state portal also will be discussed.

"The goal is to try to help the Latino community understand what the vaccine is," Fleming said.

Collaborating with St. James to offer the online Spanish-language presentation made sense, she said, because many people in the Hispanic community view their houses of worship as trusted sources of information. She said several members of the Black community expressed similar views of their churches during a recent vaccine pod the health agency held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City.

"They'll see it and say if the church is backing it, it must be legitimate," Fleming said.

Caring for 'whole being'

The Rev. Bill Pruett, St. James' senior pastor, said the house of worship decided to co-sponsor the presentation for several reasons.

"We partner with the health department because the church is concerned for not just the soul of a person but their whole being, their whole person hood. Not just their salvation eternally but their lives here and now," he said.

"We wanted to help people understand that the vaccine is a good thing. It's a good thing for our community, it's a good thing for us. And to receive the vaccine is not just something I do for myself personally but it is for the community as well. By making the world a little safer, I'm making life easier for a lot of people."

For information about Saturday's virtual presentation and to view on Saturday, go to church's Facebook page at

Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›