Interfaith leaders mobilize to close racial disparity gap in vaccine access


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black and brown neighborhoods continue to lag, a new partnership among faith-based leaders aims to get shots into the arms of people in underserved communities.

Faith-based leaders, health care professionals, and city government and civic leaders gathered at the courtyard outside of Independence Blue Cross in Center City on Tuesday to announce the All Faiths Vaccination Campaign (AFVC). They hope their efforts will help close the racial disparity gap in vaccination access.

Rev. Robert Collier, president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, said faith leaders need to use their influence to educate people in their communities about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“As church leaders, synagogue leaders, as mosque leaders, we have the responsibility for the spiritual well-being of our people, but let us not forget: We also have the responsibility for their general well-being. That’s their health, physical [health], all of that.

"It’s imperative that we as faith leaders need to take the leadership role in getting our people vaccinated."

Food and ice cream giveaways are planned at some vaccination sites as incentives.

The official launch of AFVC starts on Thursday at Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church, located at North 42nd and Wallace streets, as well as at the People’s Baptist Church at 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue. Those vaccination sites will be open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“Now that safe, preventative vaccines — that are proven medically effective — are available, it is our collective resolve to protect those communities through vaccinations,” added Rev. Dr. Malcolm Byrd, president and CEO of Forum Philly and one of the key organizers of AFVC.

The effort will continue at other houses of worship through Juneteenth. AFVC’s website provides more information on participating religious centers, vaccination sites near you and upcoming AFVC events.

Featured Image Photo Credit: John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio