Southside Church, Trinity United Church of Christ will present a COVID-19 Virtual town hall on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. The church wants to ensure the community it serves are educated about the COVID-19 vaccine. On Saturday, Feb. 13, in partnership with Howard Brown Health, Trinity UCC distributed 400 COVID-19 vaccines.
THE NECESSITY FOR ACCURATE INFORMATION REGARDING THE VACCINE
The Virtual town hall seeks to provide information concerning questions relating to the vaccine and its effects on the Black community. The town hall includes a panel of health care professionals including Dr. Maya Green, medical director of Howard Brown Health’s Threshold South; Dr. Karriem S. Watson, a research scientist at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and Director of the Office of Community Engaged Research and Implementation Science for the center and the Mile Square Health Center; and Dr. Mawusi Arnett, of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. The town hall will be hosted by Trinity’s Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, and moderated by attorney and television personality, Star Jones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), over 20,575,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19. Over 343,500 deaths are attributed to COVID-19. Of these numbers, 1.3 million African Americans tested positive. In addition, over 38,000 African Americans have died from the virus.
BLACK PEOPLE ARE HESITANT TO OBTAIN VACCINE
Trinity UCC’s first lady, Mrs. Monica B. Moss spoke about the black community’s hesitancy in taking the vaccine. “I feel that it’s only fitting that we would have a natural hesitancy when we weigh the option to take the Covid-19 vaccine. The internet abounds with information, some accurate and some misdirected, and has an impact on our willingness to be vaccinated. Most African Americans view the health care system with some level of mistrust or suspicion because of historical evidence undergirded by systemic racism. I also think that for many people in our community, the process of registering for the vaccine has proven to be both cumbersome and confusing. I too had some trepidation about taking the vaccine, but when I thought about the alternative – contracting a life-threatening case of Covid-19 – I knew that taking the vaccine would be the best option. Science has revealed that the reported side-effects of the vaccine are minimal when compared to the symptoms, both short term and long term, of contracting the disease. The 400 people who received vaccinations at Trinity this past weekend now have a better chance of surviving this virus. That is significant; and with continued mask-wearing, and social distancing, we can do our part to bring an end to this pandemic sooner rather than later. My prayer is that many more of us will decide to take the vaccine so that we can safely return to life with our friends and family, employment, travel, and of course, so that we can safely return to the church to gather together in corporate worship.”
COVID-19 DEVASTATED BLACK COMMUNITIES
In Dec. 2020, pharmaceutical giants, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA to begin distributing their vaccines. Although scientists are hopeful the COVID-19 vaccines will slow down or stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the African American community has been cautious and on the fence about receiving the vaccine due to racist health policies and clinical experiments that have historically targeted black and brown communities and skepticism related to the vaccine’s safety and long-term effects.
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III provided, “Covid-19 has devastated our community. The disease has not only killed 18,000 in our state, but the long-term effects for people with preexisting health conditions can complicate health, post-illness. This vaccine, developed by a Black woman, is our best defense against the disease and our brightest pathway to return to normal if we take the vaccine. It is irresponsible to risk your own health and the health of others when there is a vaccine with a 95percent rate of protraction.
To register for Trinity UCC’s Virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall, visit https://tinyurl.com/TUCCCovidTownHall. Zoom credentials will be shared once registered.
Donna Hammond is a seminarian and freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @DeeLois623 and Facebook, DeeLoisSpeaks.