Judge Cassandra Kirk kickstarts courthouse Covid vaccine persuasion campaign

Judge Cassandra Kirk kickstarts courthouse Covid vaccine persuasion campaign

August 01, 2021

As Georgia’s vaccination rate stagnated at 30%, Chief Magistrate Judge Cassandra Kirk found herself on a call with a White House Team where her Soror Vice-President Kamala Harris asked members of the Divine 9 to help persuade Georgians to get vaccinated. Judge Kirk and the Magistrate Court of Fulton County answered the call.

If you know one thing about Fulton County Chief Magistrate Judge Cassandra Kirk, you know that she created the Court’s mission to Inform, Engage and Empower Our Community because it exemplified her vision for a Court dubbed “the People’s Court.” Whether increasing the accessibility of the public to its court or serving in the community alongside the Court’s 30 judges, Judge Cassandra Kirk is known to tackle challenges that present a barrier to the community in a unique way.

And, her response to COVID-19 was no different. Last year she utilized MAJL Diagnostic Laboratories to bring COVID testing to the Fulton County Courthouse. This year, she worked with Walgreen’s Pharmacy to bring COVID-19 vaccines on site in the Courthouse. And, earlier this month, working with Judge Ashley Drake and intern Gabrielle Kimchee to design and implement a plan, Judge Cassandra Kirk began a 15-day social media campaign with faces from the Magistrate Court’s team to encourage Fulton County residents to get vaccinated. The conclusion of the social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was a free pop-up mobile vaccination clinic at the Fulton County Courthouse.

Following the death of Newton County Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson last year due to COVID-19, this virus became personal for Kirk. “It wasn’t just Horace’s death, but the contagious and invasive nature of this virus that struck members of our community regardless of age, race, sex, socioeconomic status or other categories. Following safety protocols and vaccination seemed the key. I felt compelled to add my voice to efforts to support and persuade others to get vaccinated.” says Judge Kirk.

After putting out an email challenge to all of her Divine Nine colleagues across the Justice Partners, Judge Kirk teamed up with Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat to host “End the Wait-Vaccinate,” a mobile vaccination pop-up clinic at the Fulton County Courthouse. On July 2, 2021 anyone at court or anyone that could make their way to the Fulton County Courthouse had easy access to the mobile vaccination clinic. They received a free one of three COVID-19 vaccine options outside the Courthouse on the Central Avenue side. Walk-ups were welcomed with no registration.

The mobile clinic was held in affiliation with Fulton County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Juliette W. Scales, Fulton County Probate Court Judge Kenya Johnson, and Fulton County Marshal Maria McKee. Also, in partnership with CORE and the Georgia Department of Health.

Keeping with her mission to Inform, Engage and Empower, Judge Kirk and The Magistrate Court of Fulton County challenged other Magistrate Courts and members of the Divine 9 to do their part to assist in vaccination efforts. Other members of Justice quickly stepped up— as this pop-up clinic was the culmination of a 15-day vaccination campaign where Judge Kirk used her social media platform as well as her daily presence at the Fulton County Courthouse to spread the vaccine messaging to over 8,500 people per day by the use of the recess screen inside and outside the courtrooms. The recess screen is still up till this day letting courthouse visitors know where they can easily access a vaccination clinic.

“With the success of our Fulton County Mobile Vaccine Clinic Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy hosted one in Cobb, following our model as did Fulton County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Juliette Scales and Rockdale County Chief Magistrate Judge Phinia Aten will be hosting one in the future. And, recently, I learned that the Georgia Council of Municipal Court judges president, Judge JaDawyna Baker will be encouraging hosting mobile vaccination clinics throughout the State’s Municipal Courts.” explains Judge Kirk.

Judge Kirk is still committed to sharing the COVID-19 vaccination information to her community. While she is fully aware of the mixed feeling across the nation, she hopes that her “persuasion campaign” will lead Fulton County residents to at least visit the CDC website or talk to health professionals, to discover what is the best option for their families, so that we can all get back to normal.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination please visit: vaccines.gov, call talkdesktalkdesk1.800.232.0233, or text GETVAX to 438829.

– Ann Hill-Bond is a freelance writer who is both persistent and earnest, which makes her a valuable asset to the culture