High-ranking Catholics are not the only members of the clergy sounding the alarm bells about COVID-19.
A dozen black pastors interviewed by Reuters say they will not push new vaccines against the virus, citing concerns about its rapid development and the lack of evidence for or against potential long-term effects.
“We are concerned that it will be tested on people of color.Said AR Bernard, the pearl of a Brooklyn mega-church who turned down an invitation from a large healthcare organization to sit on a committee to boost vaccine acceptance in the community. black New York. Bernard was hospitalized with the virus in March and says he wants to “wait and see” until more information emerges on the side effects of the vaccine.
Bernard, who runs the Christian Cultural Center, the city’s largest church, said he turned down the offer because he was concerned that some in his congregation might view his participation as “joining forces with the system” to use African Americans “as guinea pigs” for vaccines that were developed in record time. –Reuters
Reuters suggests that black pastoralists’ reluctance to vaccinate “ is striking ” as they have played a key role in educating their communities about the risks of the virus to African Americans, who are 2.8 times more likely to die of the disease that white Americans, according to the CDC.
Discouraged health officials hoped black religious leaders and other African-American role models would lead the charge by quelling skepticism in the black community, with just 49% of blacks say they are interested in taking it compared to 63% of white Americans, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month. Most of those who won’t take it worry about the record speed with which it was developed, while black pastors in particular cite deep mistrust in the medical establishment among blacks.
“What we are dealing with now is the by-product of … generations of mistrust, suspicion and fear of the functioning of medical systems,” said Edwin Sanders, head of the Metropolitan International Church in Nashville, Tennessee. , who has been involved with public health education since HIV / AIDS hit in the 1980s (via Reuters).
Distrust is rooted in decades of unequal access to and treatment of healthcare, an under-representation in clinical trials, and a history of use as unwitting test subjects, as in Tuskegee’s infamous syphilis study this continued until 1972 and suspended treatment for syphilis from unwittingly infected black men.
Pastors said this story fed fears the COVID-19 vaccine will not work in black Americans, or that they may be injected differently than the rest of society. –Reuters
“I cannot in good faith tell my people to accept this wholesale, but I also don’t try to support any type of baseless conspiracy theories. It’s a tightrope that I have to walk here, ”said Earle Fisher, pastor of the Abyssinian Missary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
Most of the 12 pastors interviewed agreed the vaccine was needed to end the crisis, but only one was ready to approve it at the time – while most said they wanted more data beforehand. to recommend it to their parishioners.
“As a pastor and health worker, I can see why people should take it, because of the devastation I have seen. But I also understand why the African American community does not trust him because of the way we have been treated in the past.“Said Reginald Belton of the First Brownsville Baptist Church in Brooklyn,” who also does pastoral work in a hospital. “
Belton says he will take the vaccine, but similarly wants to provide his supporters with more information before approving it.
Another pastor, Elijah Hankerson III of the Life Center International Church of God in Christ in St. Louis, Missouri, said that The 90% + effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna is not enough for it to promote a vaccine – however, if St. Louis officials vouch for this and his legal team and church health office approve, he said he would promote it on his webcasts and audience social networks of around 70,000 people.
“Data is one thing,” said Hankerson, whose uncle and his two colleagues have died from the virus. “If there are people we trust that can vouch and say, ‘Hey, this is for the good of the people, let it be known’, we wouldn’t mind doing it.”
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