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At Least 36 U.S. States Prioritize Religious Leaders for Vaccines


Officials with the Utah Muslim Civic League, which has hosted vaccination events at mosques, said registration numbers had been growing. And in Washington, after the Rev. Patricia Hailes Fears of Fellowship Baptist Church became the first clergy member to receive the vaccine at the event with Dr. Fauci, some congregants took notice.

“I wasn’t even home from the cathedral, and I was getting phone calls from members of the congregation saying, ‘Pastor, we saw you! I’m getting my shot on Saturday,’” she said.

Across the country, public health officials have reached out to religious leaders in Black and Hispanic communities, which have sometimes reported significantly lower vaccination rates compared with their representation in the general population.

In Baltimore, the Rev. Terris King of Liberty Grace Church of God has set up virtual discussions for members of his predominantly Black congregation with representatives from health care companies, such as Pfizer. Governments need to work with churches, the reverend said, because religious leaders understand their communities’ needs and anxieties, with much of the mistrust stemming from historical and current mistreatment of people of color in the health care system.

“Many of them have seen what, as a researcher in minority health, I’ve always known, and that’s that the church is the trusted source in the African-American community around the country,” he said.



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