By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A church’s mission isn’t just fulfilled within its walls. “We take the gospel to where the people are,” said Pastor Jalilia Brown.

For Shiloh Temple on Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, that gospel this weekend might just save some people.

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“I’m like man, wouldn’t it be good if we could do a 2-for-1 in the health care field,” she wondered.

That 2-for-1 special will be a free COVID-19 testing and flu shot event in the church’s parking lot Friday and Saturday afternoon from noon – 4:00 p.m. People can stay in their vehicles if they prefer. Walk-ups are also welcome.

“We’re not turning anyone away,” said Pastor Brown, who also works at Hennepin Healthcare downtown. She coordinated the event with the hospital and City of Minneapolis to help a part of town struggling through a pandemic and increase in violent crime.

“There’s a disparity in this area, north Minneapolis. A lot of resources don’t come this way. And then sometimes when it is you have to pay for it,” she said.

Free or not, doctors say getting a flu shot specifically this fall has never been more important due to COVID-19.

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The viruses have similar symptoms according to the CDC including fever, chills, cough, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain and body aches. That means if someone has the flu it might lead them to getting a COVID-19 test.

“And if I wind up doing a lot of COVID tests on people who actually have influenza, then I’m diverting COVID tests from what we need them for, our fight against COVID,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, infectious disease expert with Allina Health. He adds that some studies show the probability of death increases if someone contracts both viruses.

Dr. Frank Rhame with Allina health adds that if someone contracts both viruses, studies show the chance of dying increases.

“We really are advocating that everybody above six months get vaccinated unless they have contraindication,” he said. A doctor’s recommendation coupled with a pastor’s plea.

“If that’s you that’s on the fence, I want you to come off the fence and come to this free event,” said Pastor Brown.

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Shiloh Temple is located at 1201 West Broadway Avenue.

Jeff Wagner