by Dana Givens

Previously, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported on a local doctors group in Philadelphia that helped the city to step up efforts to encourage Black residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in light of studies that show that African Americans are more untrusting of the new vaccine due to a long history of medical racism. Now, churches across different states are transforming into vaccine clinics to help instill more trust amongst the Black community.

Outside of traditional hospitals and clinics, many doctors are coming together with local faith leaders to create spaces for residents to be safely vaccinated and gain access to medical treatment in light of the public health crisis. Some say initiatives like these are critical to building more trust in the vaccine.

”When I’m talking about untrustworthy behavior we’re talking about Henrietta Lacks, we’re talking about the Tuskegee experiments, we’re talking about Jim Crow in the South. A lot of their experiences they’re having to this day where they’re going to see a healthcare provider and they’re feeling like they’re not heard. They don’t necessarily feel like they’re getting the help they need in the first place,” Dr. Justin Moore, an epidemiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, said in an interview with WJBF News.

The mobile centers can also help faith leaders to educate their patrons on the importance of the vaccinations as community leaders that they trust. In communities where the Black population accounts for a sizable portion of infected cases, it has become vital for pastors and other leaders to help educate their peers about getting vaccinated.

“People believe in their faith leadership, in their pastors,” said Karl Anderson, pastor at Gainesville’s Upper Room Church of God, in an interview with the Gainsville Sun. “In order to dispel the myths, they need to hear it from the people they trust.”