Gainesville pastors join forces to vaccinate Black communities
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Getting the community vaccinated is a group effort in Alachua County as the Health Department, UF Health and churches work together to make sure those who need the vaccine the most get it.
“But you know we’re able to talk to them and give them comfort. God bless you, sir thank you for coming,” said Pastor Shirley Watts with Community Praise Center in Gainesville.
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250 were registered and ready to receive the vaccine at Passage family church in East Gainesville. “It’s a community event,” said Pastor George Dix with Passage Family. “Yes, there’s some anxiety. There’s some perhaps even some dis-interest because of fear.”
For Pastor Dix holding the event at Passage Family plays into a larger purpose geared towards the African-American community. That’s why a number of Gainesville pastors are making sure people feel comfortable by leading the way and getting vaccinated.
Then encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated and become a trusted source for COVID-19 vaccination information.
“And this is not so much as an opportunity as it is a necessity,” said UF Health Director of Screen, Test & Protect Dr. Michael Lauzardo. “We need to make sure nobody gets left behind and realizing that people trust places and they trust people. So in other words, we are working people who are trusted in the community at places that are familiar in the community and working with them to have them help us recruit people.”
All Pastors also work to make sure feelings of fear and vaccine to receive the vaccine are left at the door.
“Part of our partners out here greeting and meeting people to make them comfortable,” added Dix. “Because that’s important because even though they are showing up today, that’s not to suggest that there isn’t a sense of hesitancy perhaps in some ways but if we show them the love. I like to call it loving in living color, people tend to be a little more comfortable.”
Dr. Lauzardo adds that by zip code, almost 80% of black people, 65 and older have gotten vaccinated in the county so far.
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“Well it’s all about trust and you hit the nail on the head there. And I think that building on that trust that’s there giving people good information. And we find when you give people good information and you’re honest with them. You tell them what you know, what you don’t know, you make things available to them and it really makes a huge difference.”
Anyone without an appointment got put on a waiting list to be scheduled for future vaccine events.
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