When Marti Noxon headed to Kedren Community Care Clinic to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year, she was awestruck by what she found at the South Los Angeles facility. “They were one of the first facilities in Los Angeles breaking down barriers to receiving the vaccine, focusing not only on their community, but all of Los Angeles,” says the producer and showrunner. “I was overwhelmed with their efficiency, their kindness and compassion.”
Noxon then coordinated with the Kedren team to gift them lunch from an In-N-Out truck as a way to thank them for their efforts. “I learned that it takes nearly 200 employees and volunteers a day to keep their vaccination program running smoothly and I knew I wanted to do something to thank them. And who doesn’t love In-N-Out and some burgers and love?”
She is not the only one who has taken notice of the vaccine operation guided by Kedren’s Dr. Jerry Abraham, who has made headlines for his efforts not only to secure vaccines for vulnerable populations but for how he’s orchestrated distribution plans with the “Live, Work, Worship & Play” campaign. Along with a long list of community and nonprofit partners, Kedren has utilized mobile fleets, weekend community-based special vaccination events, pop-up sites, “Nite Vax” clinics to reach people in the evenings.
“Last night we saw a group of fashionistas come in and it was almost like a club atmosphere with people jamming, playing music and dancing as if they were literally sneaking out of the house to go to the club but instead they were getting vaccines,” Abraham explains. “At night, we can reach people who are working hard to put food on the table during the day. We need to meet them where they are.”
The methods are serving as blueprints for vaccine distribution in other areas, both across the U.S. and globally, and Abraham is looking to travel to help implement his initiatives in order to stop the “needless loss of life” that continues to happen abroad amid slower vaccine rollouts. “We do it equitably, fairly and justly,” Abraham tells The Hollywood Reporter, confirming that they are approaching nearly 160,000 shots distributed. “We have figured out how to vaccinate people in South L.A. and I hope to help people figure it out around the world as well. We still have a pandemic and we must end it.”
Locally, they’ve relied on a deep volunteer pool thanks to resources pooled from the International Medical Corps, AmeriCorps, American Red Cross, Cal Volunteers, RN Response Network, CORE, clinical volunteers from USC, UCLA and Charles Drew University, and dozens of Angelenos who are pitching in. More is needed, Abraham says. “We’re finally at the point where we have vaccines but can’t find the arms or the hands to administer them. This all takes a lot of funding and resources and that is a regular struggle for Kedren. The last mile is not paid for.”
As for those burgers, Abraham says the April 15 lunch was quite the day. “We created a real festival environment. Everybody really got to enjoy. We’re outside and it was hot there so people are waiting in lines [to get the vaccine] so to see that gesture, that’s humanity and kindness. Those acts make all the difference in the world right now. Pardon the pun, but I think Marti was infected by this viral movement we are creating at Kedren in order to help end this pandemic,” Abraham said, praising his team and the many volunteers who are putting in long hours to be part of the solution. “As much as we are heroes to Marti, she’s a hero to us.”
A version of this story first appeared in the April 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.