Pastor Kelcy Steele of Varick Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in New Haven says he hears about a 50-50 split on whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“A lot of people are saying ‘I want to wait and see.’ There’s not going to be anything else. It’s either take this vaccination or expose yourself more to this virus,” said Steele.
He became a cultural ambassador with the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. He and other community leaders learned about the vaccine development every step of the way, sharing that information with the public.
“I think it’s very important in the Black and brown community to see a spiritual leader, a pastor, educated on the vaccination in order to give out the information,” said Steele.
Community groups in New Haven are reaching out to those who are hesitant or just have questions about the vaccine.
“There’s a long dark history around vaccines and testing that there’s fear, so we want to talk about really the facts around it, we want to address the fear,” said Dori Dumas, the president of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP.
The group will host an information session on Facebook Tuesday evening, in partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital, to answer those questions and more about health equity and advocating for access.
“We also want to talk about helping our community know how to sign up. We want to remove any barriers because it’s too critical,” sad Dumas.
Hospital president Dr. Keith Churchwell is also a panel guest.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to try to answer those questions, to find answers if we don’t know, to reassure people that it is safe, and it’s vital to us as we work toward herd immunity,” said Churchwell.
Steele says he’s concerned about the vaccine response and getting to herd immunity. He is hopeful more information will help people decide to get one.
He also joined a vaccine information session Tuesday with the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation and the Cultural Ambassadors.
Their mission for vaccine equity is never-ending.
“We are constantly educating ourselves and getting that message out into the community,” said Steele.