Black Pastors Taking the Lead Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine to Educate and Reassure the Minority Communities

Press Release

updated: Jan 21, 2021 10:00 EST

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be administered across the country, and Black Pastors will be publicly vaccinated at Whittier Street Health Center on Jan. 22, 2021, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Whittier has a deep commitment to addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, economic equity, and social justice in the Boston inner city. The vaccine will be administered by Whittier staff Dr. Stephen Wright, Medical Director for Primary Care Services, and Melissa Leaston, RN, Director of Nursing and Infection Control Officer.

“We deeply value our strategic and community partnerships, which includes our faith-based institutions and leaders. We believe that as key influencers in the communities we serve, they play a critical role in the engagement of our patients and community residents in health education and services that will address the high rates of mortality and morbidity in the communities we serve. Our minority populations have been negatively impacted by many issues including the COVID-19 virus. Our faith leaders have done an excellent job supporting our testing activities during the pandemic and our mission to address wellness, prevention, health disparities and overall well-being,” said Frederica M. Williams, President and CEO of Whittier Street Health Center. “At Whittier, our goal is to build a culture of wellness in the communities served and we hope to launch a mobile COVID-19 vaccination program, meeting people where they are and providing health and social services.” 

“Whittier Street Health Center, for over 85 years, has been a stalwart for premier community-focused health care for inner-city Boston,” said Pastor Gerald Bell, Board Chair, Whittier Street Health Center. “I personally acknowledge and have lived my entire life experiencing how Black Americans have been mistreated on many levels by the institutions which were meant to serve and help them. Therefore, without doubt or question, I will follow the lead of my primary care physician at Whittier and take the life-saving vaccination. I will lead my parishioners to do the same, follow the science and put your trust in the Lord above.”

Reverend Miniard Culpepper, Senior Pastor, Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church and head of the COVID-19 Clergy Committee of Boston, stated that “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘science investigates; religion interprets.’ After much prayer, I interpret what the scientists are saying to mean that we can’t wait. I agree with Dr. King when he said, ‘We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly affects all indirectly.’ I hope and pray that by taking the vaccine, I can positively impact many to do the same.”  

Whittier launched several COVID-19 vaccination focus groups and listening sessions to solicit feedback from community residents, community leaders and faith-based leaders from minority communities, and these have informed the culturally sensitive vaccination education outreach activities being launched. 

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Source: Whittier Street Health Center

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