Black pastors are attempting to solve the disparity in vaccine distribution and get more shots in arms of the people part of their underserved communities.
The plan is to get more vaccines into trusted venues- places that are in the heart of underserved communities led by people the community trusts. Members of the Statewide Covid-19 Vaccine Community Education and Engagement Task Force is trying to set up vaccine sites at Black churches across the state, HBCUs, and other places that are easy for underserved communities to access.”
Pastor Glover at Mount Hermon Ministries says his church is already receiving vaccines from the Florida Department of Health Lee County and the Florida Division Emergency Management for vaccine sites, but he hopes to get vaccines from the federal government soon through the task force.
To do so, Reverend Holmes convened a task force, led by Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Southwest Florida is represented by Dr. William Glover, of Mount Hermon Ministries. Mount Hermon is one of those trusted venues where hundreds have already been vaccinated.
“I think people and communities of color want to be vaccinated just like anyone else,” Glover said.
“Churches are venues, trusted venues. Churches have trusted advocates,” Glover added.
“We believe that these vaccines are a gift of life,” said Holmes, chairperson of the Statewide Covid-19 Vaccine Community Education and Engagement Task Force.
Of the 2.7 million Floridians vaccinated, fewer than 6% are Black.
“Those are deplorable numbers,” Holmes said. “This virus is not discriminating. We are dying disproportionately.”
Holmes said the vaccines need to be in distressed and marginalized communities so people can reach them.
Holmes said about 20% of the people who went to his last vaccination event could not read.
“Think about the number of people that want to come to these facilities but are just embarrassed to say that I’m 70, I’m 80 but I cannot read,” Holmes said.
But the church is a place where something like that doesn’t matter, where people can come as they are to save their souls and soon, their lives, too.
“We have to encourage our people to take the vaccine,” Holmes said.