Religious groups hope to dispel COVID vaccination disinformation in minority communities

Illinois

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Religious groups throughout the St. Louis area are joining efforts to educate the public about COVID-19 vaccinations. United Congregations of Metro East will hold a virtual meeting Tuesday with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Illinois Director of Public Health.

Rev. Michael Atty, executive director for United Congregations of Metro East, said minorities are often disproportionally affected by health related issued. He said countless friends and associates have been affected by the coronavirus.

“It’s hit us very hard and disproportionately and part of it is because many Black and brown folks work in these jobs where they don’t have a choice,” he said. “They can’t stay at home or work at home; they have to go to work.”

One example frequently cited for a cause of minority distrust of the medical community is known as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Black patients were told they were being treated for bad blood. The truth was they were going untreated while doctors studied the progression of syphilis.

“It’s a different time from when the Tuskegee experiment happened,” said Rev. Rodrick Burton, pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church.

Burton held an informational talk last week inviting medical professionals to share information about the COVID vaccine in hopes of addressing any mistrust in his north St. Louis church.

“I’m talking about it every time I have a chance to get in front of the congregation,” he said.

Burton said minorities are being targeted with false information on social media and believes clergy should be doing what they can to provide church members with access to truthful information.

“We don’t want folks in our community to be hesitating when it’s available,” he said. “We want folks to take full advantage of it.”

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