Black Churches Step in to Help Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines


Florida pilot program could become model for other states.

In his four decades as a minister, R. B. Holmes Jr. has never dealt with so much death.

More than 24,000 Floridians have died from COVID-19, including more than a few of the flock that Holmes shepherds at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.

“No one is immune from this,” Holmes told CT. “The thief is winning. The virus is a thief.”

The black pastor is especially concerned that the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted his community and other communities of racial minorities around the state. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black people are 1.4 times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die from it than white people.

There are a number of possible reasons for this. The National Urban League points out that many minorities are more exposed to the virus because they work in fields that don’t accommodate working from home. African Americans also tend to have more preexisting conditions—often poverty related—that put them at risk of COVID-19. On top of that, they are less likely to have health insurance.

Whatever the reason, Holmes said the crisis has created an emergency for black people, and African American community leaders, especially pastors, have to find a way to respond. After one too many funerals in 2020, he felt compelled to action.

“Why sit here as leaders and watch our people die and our families die?”

So Holmes organized the Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force.

The group is partnering with hospitals and the state to better distribute vaccines—as they become available—through local churches …

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