January 28, 2021

Faith leaders battle vaccine skepticism with selfies

Vershal Hogan

In many places, people of faith have demonstrated a level of skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines, some because they doubted that the vaccines have been appropriately tested and others having been fed misinformation about the vaccines.

Pastors have been working to convince their parishioners that the vaccines can be trusted. That could be doubly tough in communities of color, as Stat News reported in August:



Researchers have already raised concerns about the number of Americans who are wary of the vaccines in development for COVID-19, and particularly the number of Black Americans, who are far more likely to say they are skeptical. Given the country’s history of mistreating Black patients in medical studies, King understands why the congregants of his Black Baptist church may hesitate to get the vaccine when it’s available.

 

[Pastor Terris] King is hoping he can combat that skepticism the same way he’s convinced his congregants to wear masks and stay home when they can — through his weekly sermons. And he’s hoping to take those teachings national. He’s already working alongside both academic and religious institutions in Baltimore and beyond to broaden his reach before a potential vaccine is approved.

One way faith leaders are leading the way in the present is by publicly posting selfies they take receiving the vaccine. As Sojourners reports, a number of leaders have signed an interfaith pledge to share a selfie and write about the vaccination process on social media.

The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kemp is both a pastor and a pulmonary physician. He was one of the signatories, and he told Sojourners:

“The importance of people of faith speaking to their congregations, their constituency, their area of influence, cannot be overstated,” said Kemp, who received his first vaccine dose on Dec. 18 and shared a photo of it on Facebook. “If we’re going to reach 70 percent immunization or immunity in our community, we’re only going to do it if people trust the process.”

At least 80 faith leaders in San Antonio have signed the pledge.

Read the entire Sojourner’s story here.

Read the entire Stat News story here.

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