Faith leaders use YouTube to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

Joshua Chou, a pharmacist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, prepares a Moderna vaccine dose at a vaccine clinic in east Baltimore's Southern Baptist Church. April 10, 2021   (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Joshua Chou, a pharmacist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, prepares a Moderna vaccine dose at a vaccine clinic in east Baltimore's Southern Baptist Church. April 10, 2021 (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Georgia faith leaders are turning to social media to get the word out about the safety of taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Several public service announcements will air on YouTube featuring various faith leaders and medical professionals.

The PSAs are produced in a conversational format designed to dispel rumors and address specific questions raised in a recent survey of African American churchgoers such as: Is it safe? Are drug companies trying to get rich off the vaccine? What if I’m not afraid of getting the virus?

The public service announcements will also feature the spouses of several denominational leaders. Fair Count, a nonprofit dedicated to greater civic participation, is part of the initiative, according to a press release about the effort.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson of the 6th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church said the plan is to air them during church services and on social media over the next couple of months.

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“One of the things we’ve been concerned about from the very beginning is the distribution of the vaccine in the Black community,” he said. Additionally, Black people have suffered disproportionately in the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Many churches that went solely online during the pandemic are starting to hold in-person worship services again. Many are leaving it to congregants to determine if they want to wear masks. “We’re very concerned when we hear some people say they’re not going to get the vaccine,” Jackson said. “We say that if you don’t get it, it’s a disservice not only to them but their families and community.”

Half of U.S. adults over 18 are fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Rev. Ralph L. Thompson Jr., chairman of the Black Congregational Development for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and pastor of Columbia Drive United Methodist Church in Decatur, admits he was initially hesitant about getting the vaccine.

His fears, though, were allayed after he spoke with health care professionals and did his own research.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the virus is real and it’s killing hundreds of thousands of people. The only way society can get back and return to its former state is if people get vaccinated. It makes good economic sense.”

Faith leaders, he said, can “lead the charge. Trust science and put your faith in God.”

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