Congregations Work to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

While many people continue to be distrustful of health institutions, many still trust their faith leaders to address concerns around the COVID-19 vaccination. 

During a May 26 online summit hosted by Faiths4Vaccines, a national multi faith initiative, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told attendees, “At a moment where people are casting about and wondering who they can lean on for information … they look to people they know, to people they trust,” and faith leaders are who they trust.

Churches and places supported by religious organizations also are important because many have opened their doors as vaccination sites. Meharry Medical College, for example, is a vaccination site and is supported by The Black College Fund of The United Methodist Church.

“The setting in which you get the vaccine matters because people want to be where they feel comfortable, and churches represent a place of comfort and security for a lot of people,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee told UM News.

Meharry has served as a vaccination site since January and operates a mobile vaccine clinic. “Being located in a predominantly African American neighborhood, medical mistrust is an issue,” said Cat Nash, who serves as the clinical lead for vaccinations. “Churches lend credibility, and clergy are a good way to reach out to patients.”

Hildreth agreed. “The most urgent need is for someone to get the attention of the people who are holding out, just to answer the questions,” he said.

As vaccination rollouts continue across the country, the United Methodist Church is encouraging member congregations and partners to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

To learn about where you can get vaccinated in your community click here.

Source: UM News