In Chantilly, Virginia, USA- The ADAMS Compassionate Healthcare Network (ACHN), a free medical clinic supported by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, has successfully concluded a 3-month operation in administering Pfizer vaccines against COVID-19. The vaccination clinic started on February 13th, 2021, and concluded on May 29th, 2021. ACHN fully vaccinated 3,090 people, accounting for about 1.75% of total vaccinations in Fairfax County, VA.
Although this number may be modest, ACHN serves a crucial role in the community by providing care to populations that are historically marginalized and most vulnerable to disease and infirmity. ACHN is a non-profit specializing in serving the needs of low-income, uninsured and immigrant populations. The services include healthcare, social and community services, education, and outreach.
ACHN began administering vaccines initially when Governor Northam of Virginia prioritized healthcare workers and those aged 65+ to be priority populations receiving immunity against COVID-19. In later months, like the CDC, President Joe Biden, and Governor Northam began to loosen restrictions on those eligible to be vaccinated, ACHN was able to expand its targeted outreach to a more diverse audience (aligned with their core mission and vision).
Non-profit community clinics like ACHN have been at the forefront of ensuring that everyone received the vaccination, regardless of language, ethnicity, income, age, or background. Around 75% of those vaccinated in February were non-white, and 98% were over the age of 65. In March, 6.8% of people vaccinated were uninsured.
The vaccination clinic also coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. Islamic faith leaders played a vital role by ensuring that congregants understood receiving the vaccine would not invalidate their religious fast. And that the vaccines were truly safe & effective in preventing contracting COVID-19. In the spirit of Ramadan, ACHN promoted charity and kindness during this time, working tirelessly to organize resources and reassure the community they serve.
The vaccination clinic would not be possible without the help of the clinic staff, Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corp (MRC), and the many volunteers who signed up to assist. Annette Finney, MD, a clinic volunteer physician and a member of the Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corp, says the best part of volunteering has been both “Seeing the Covid-19 related deaths decrease precipitously” as well as “The gratitude that people show for getting the vaccine and being on the receiving end of people’s thankfulness”.
The Fairfax MRC is a group of volunteers who are dedicated to serving public health missions & campaigns. The Fairfax MRC played a crucial role during the vaccination process, as it allowed the clinic to receive help from a diverse set of volunteers, alongside the core group of ACHN volunteers. ACHN is no different than any non-profit, where the volunteers are the lifeblood to its success and growth.
On the topic of volunteering, Dr. Finney expressed that “I believe all of us should step up to volunteer in whatever way we can in our community. I found this as an easy way to help out as a physician”.
Lily Henke, a long-tenured ACHN volunteer for 3 years, said she volunteered in February “Because I believe everybody has the right to basic healthcare no matter who you are. It’s the right thing to do. I don’t need to be paid for it”. She added “I like the clinical experience I get” as another benefit to the volunteer experience. Back in February when ACHN was excitingly assembling staff to operate the vaccination clinic, they also reached out to healthcare workers.
Kehkashan Repair, RN, is another long-tenured ACHN volunteer who enthusiastically said yes to the request of vaccinating for ACHN. She expressed the importance of volunteering and committing her time. This was important to her “Because I feel like I am helping the community and saving lives, and when people give you compliments it makes you feel good”. She added that “It is part of our [Islamic] faith to help the community. Our community is not just Muslims but includes our neighbors. It is our duty.
Saving one life is like saving mankind. Today, everybody that I met has said that you are our heroes and that you are doing a great job.” Kehkashan adds “Even the people of other religions came in and said that your [Islamic] community is doing very good work.”
In the United States, the Muslim community is often misunderstood or mistrusted. However, with this vaccination clinic, ACHN boldly took on the challenge of combating COVID-19 while alleviating the community of any hesitations they should have about their Muslim neighbors. By successfully concluding an impactful vaccination campaign, ACHN represented Muslim values in the best way possible- one shot at a time.
If you would like to learn more or support ACHN Clinic, please visit their website: http://www.
Written by: Nicholas Rhodes