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Pastors seek more African American vaccinations

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 4:17 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - A statewide organization of Black pastors has identified dozens of Black churches to become what they are calling “trusted venues” for African Americans reluctant to get vaccinated.

The pastors hope to boost the number of people of color getting the vaccine.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.3 million Floridians had received their first dose of a vaccine.

The report also shows that only 66,000, or just under five percent are Black.

“Those numbers are dismal, disturbing, and depressing,” said Reverend Dr. RB Holmes.

A task force of Black pastors has identified 86 sites, mostly Black churches, spread over six regions in the state that they say would be trusted venues with trusted pastors.

“To say it’s alright. Matter of fact, its alright to take the vaccine. You ought to take them. We believe in science, we believe our doctors,” said Holmes.

The data shows that about a quarter-million Floridians, 18 percent of all those that have gotten a shot, did not disclose their ethnic information.

Florida’s point-man on vaccines said hesitancy is a problem for African Americans.

“Just because I put a site in an African American community, it doesn’t guarantee access. The only way to guarantee access is to make sure that I am closing that pod,” said Director of the Division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz.

State Senator Audrey Gibson isn’t so sure.

“It’s not hard to look up data on demographics and target certain communities. We do that in political races all the time. So, there’s no reason for that not to have happened the way it should have,” said Gibson.

The pastors also argue that Publix stores, one of the main distribution points, are out of reach for many poor Floridians.

Floridians will soon start seeing a public service campaign, funded with $1.6 million in federal money, to encourage people to be vaccinated.

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