Persistence and consistency are key to the vaccination message of black pastoralists
Black churches like the ones we lead have sought to use the power of the pulpit to ensure vaccine safety and fight disinformation.
The black church has always been the foundation and strength of the black community. Our mission is twofold – to support both spiritual and social salvation. Our members trust the voice of their pastor. They believe that when we issue a call to action, it will advance our lives and our community in meaningful ways. In this case, social salvation means vaccination.
When COVID-19 first hit, there was an accessibility issue for black and brown communities. We are actively engaged in learning more about this deadly disease and in facilitating screening and vaccination efforts to protect our parishioners and neighbors.
Our members see their churches as safe places where they can visit their religious leaders and get their questions answered by someone they trust. We also recognize that it is primarily the older generations who attend church in person. However, we see parents in their 40s and 50s with school-aged children. Our congregations play an important role because they are the main sources of information for their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
We have hosted COVID-19 testing and immunization events in church halls and parking lots statewide that have drawn people of all races, faiths and ages. Likewise, we have coordinated events at businesses, beauty salons, barbershops, back home from Delaware State University, the Modern Maturity Center, and anywhere we can find a voluntary partner and clearance. .
This is nothing new for black churches. We have a proud tradition of social activism and leadership and leadership from the Chair. The issue of black clergy involvement in immunization campaigns – which is part of the Choose Healthy Life initiative in Delaware – is an issue that can transform our lives. We must present the loudest voice, the smartest voice and the clearest voice to our congregation and our constituent communities.
What do we tell them? We say to our parishioners and neighbors: “Do not wait, do not hesitate, vaccinate! Do it for yourself, your family, your partner / spouse and your children. Do it as an act of love that can save our community. We encourage parents to get vaccinated and encourage them to let their young children get vaccinated as well. We tell them that this virus is killing people, especially African Americans. And we think the only way to eradicate it is to vaccinate people, like we did with measles and polio.
We tell them to get vaccinated because it has been proven to be safe. There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. It will not interfere with your DNA. There is no chip in it. It will not interfere with young women who wish to become pregnant. We don’t guarantee this will prevent you from getting COVID, but if you do get it you won’t have as bad a case as if you weren’t vaccinated.
We’re trying to address the concerns we hear most often, about how quickly the vaccine was developed and the possible side effects. We also argue that the kind of conspiracies we’ve seen in the past were real, but don’t exist about these vaccines. And we are trying to fight the disinformation they see on social media.
Some young people feel invincible; some think they can’t die from COVID. Young people do not believe that the COVID-19 virus affects them the way it does the elderly and the elderly. That is why we must help them understand the fatal failure to accept feelings rather than facts. Their lives and ours depend on it.
Black churches and black pastors – all churches and clergy, in fact – must be persistent and consistent with our messages around this deadly disease. When pastors push this saving information from their pulpits, we can be very persuasive. Our congregations and our beloved Delaware must be open to hearing and implementing these messages. If we can make an impact, then we have accomplished what we are called to do. Keeping quiet is not an option.