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Black pastors come together to help distribute more COVID-19 vaccinations to people of color

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 8:02 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Statistics released earlier this week say more than 1.3 million Floridians had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of that, only 66,000 were African American.

Dr. Russell A. Wright Sr., pastor at 1st Providence Community Missionary Baptist Church said, “It is sad but it’s true that a lot of our African American people are not receiving this vaccine.”

The Statewide Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Taskforce is working to raise that number.

They have identified 86 potential sites to become what they’re calling “trusted venues.” Fifteen of them being right here in Northwest Florida.

One potential site is 1st Providence Community Missionary Baptist Church in Panama City. Pastor Wright said he says, “My people are ecstatic that we are going to step up in helping to save lives. That’s what the church is for.”

One reason for the shortage in African American vaccinations comes from a history of distrust in health care.

“The issue that has been raised is something historic. The Tuskegee Project that was done years and years ago where black men were experimented on for communicable disease, sexually transmitted disease. People became apprehensive,” said Pastor Wright.

Some black leaders believe setting up vaccinations in local churches will help rebuild that trust.

Reverend Dr. Rufus Wood Jr. said, “To deal with the trust issue I think, doing it at the churches is a real good thing because we do believe in our churches. We have faith. We are people of faith. So I think it’s a good thing that they decided to set their places up in the churches where people can get vaccinated.”

Members of the church want to make one thing clear. “This is a human issue no matter what the color of your skin is,” Pastor Wright stated.

Pastor Wright also said the task force will be proposing the idea to the state, and the people of his church will know if they are approved as soon as he does.

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