Deloris Peyton has been isolated in her home since the COVID-19 pandemic creeped in to almost every aspect of daily life. News that vaccines were available sent the 75-year-old great grandmother on the hunt for weeks in search of the life-saving injection. 

Like Peyton, not all seniors have what’s needed to quickly snag a vaccine appointment such as a computer and an internet connection. A ray of hope came in the form a phone call from a friend alerting her that the Urban League of Greater Madison was hosting a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Park Street location. 

Held Feb. 25, in partnership with the Benevolent Specialists Project, the historic civil rights organization held the event to aid people like Peyton who found barriers in accessing the vaccine.

“Oh, God bless you. I could just hug you,” beamed Peyton seconds after receiving the injection from Dr. Louis Bernhardt. 

Bernhardt, who has served the Madison community for over 30 years as a cardiothoracic surgeon and educator, completed both his medical degree and thoracic surgery residency at University of Wisconsin.

“This is what I enjoy the most,” to put smiles on people’s faces,” he said.

The list from those wanting to receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccination at the Urban League filled up. Participants will return in a month to complete the inoculation series.

“I can finally get out of the house a bit,” Peyton said. “I’ll probably start going to the grocery store and things. I’m just so grateful that the Urban League had this on the south side to help people like me.”