Local African-American clergy leaders discussing access to COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

Local African-American clergy leaders are putting together a plan to protect communities of color.

They are advocating for more people of color to have access to the vaccine to better protect them from this virus that has killed so many.

“It is our responsibility as Black pastors to provide our institutions as locations.” said Pastor Charles Mock, Community Baptist Church.

Pastor Mock and other members of the African-American clergy gathered to address the need for vaccines in local Black and Brown communities, whether it be at local churches or community centers.

“We’re trying to partner with the A.A.C and the N.A.A.C.P to get greater access from their churches. Pastors have always been looked at as leaders of our community and, as they get vaccinated, the congregation will follow.” said James Sherrod, Executive Director of the MLK Center.

Sherrod added the Minority Community Investment Coalition has teamed up with Allegheny Health Network to ensure the community’s access to vaccines at larger distribution sites like the Erie Insurance Arena.

One African-American clergy member says he received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to encourage communities of color to do the same.

“Some of them have developed this idea that the vaccine could be harmful to them. I took the vaccine to let them see. I’m three weeks past the second vaccine and I’m fine.” said Tony Ratcliff, Elder at the Greater Bethlehem Temple Church.

Ratcliff says after receiving the Moderna vaccine from the VA hospital, he is living proof that the vaccine can be more helpful than harmful.

“I say to them ‘Whichever negative reactions you’ve heard of, it’s nothing compared to the 450,000 people who are not with us now.” Ratcliff said.

The MCIC is working the Allegheny Health Network to set up vaccine appointments as they become available, setting up 500 people with vaccines today.

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