Local Black pastors receive COVID-19 vaccine as a way of leading by example

Updated: Feb. 1, 2021 at 9:10 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi has been working to ramp up its vaccine rollout in recent weeks. In doing so, they’ve noticed fewer Black Mississippians are getting the shot.

Monday, Mississippi health and faith leaders joined forces in an attempt to get more Mississippians on board with the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We know that Black Mississippians have a higher mortality rate and have been severely impacted but are getting less vaccine than the amount of population Black folks have in our state,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

To put it into perspective, Black Mississippians make up 38 percent of the state’s population. But a look at the daily vaccination report shows only 17 percent of the vaccines given have gone to the Black community.

“So many of our people, when I say our people, the Black community, have a misconception concerning the vaccine,” explained Dr. L.T. Mabry, President of the General Progressive Baptist State Convention, Inc. “I think a lot of that has to do with things that of happened in the past. I even hear some people saying that you can catch syphilis which of course we know is coming from the fact of the Tuskegee Experiment.”

To better build that trust, a dozen pastors and some of their wives rolled up their sleeves to receive the first dose Monday.

“I think that it is extraordinarily important for those of us who have been given the privilege of leadership to make sure that we lead by example,” described New Hope Baptist Church Pastor and President of the National Baptist Convention, USA Dr. Jerry Young.

The pastors say they’ve watched their community feel the impacts of the virus.

“I had one member who lost two sons and several members who have been infected,” noted Dr. Kenneth Davis, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in D’Iberville. “It has severely impacted the culture, the traditions of our community.”

And they want this vaccine to be the start of building the hope for a return to normalcy.

“I urge everyone to go out and get their vaccine because it’s going to get better,” said pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Dr. Terry Davis. “Go out and get the vaccine because it’s going to get better.”

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says they don’t have firm plans on exactly what it will look like but the state is working on expanding access to the vaccine within the Black community.

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