There is a delicate balance between faith and facts.
“This disease is turning into a Black and Brown disease. That’s because White people are vaccinated and Black people aren’t,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, the founding member and CEO of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19.
That’s why faith leaders believe it is important to set the record straight with key facts about COVID-19 vaccines. They said it is okay to have questions. However, they want people who are hesitant and reluctant to be as informed as possible.
The “Faith and Facts Fireside Chat” was a national Zoom town hall that took place May 13. The event featured Grammy-Award-winning record artist Regina Belle along with Tuckson, who is the former president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.
They were joined on the panel by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.; A.M.E Church Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie; Dr. James Perkins; and Shani Hosten with the AARP.
“It’s safer to be vaccinated than running the risk of catching the virus,” said Perkins, who is vaccinated. “You have two options, the virus or the vaccine. Which ‘v’ do you want?”
The virtual event, with more than 700 people, began with a poignant opening prayer.
“Protect us from collective doubts that stand in the way of us doing what we have to do to protect (ourselves and our loved ones),” said McKenzie in her prayer. She later continued her encouraging message.
“We were fighting against a disease that we couldn’t see,” said McKenzie, who told the virtual audience that she is vaccinated. “We need to be able to stand in the gap because people trust us.”
With that in mind, McKenzie said it is time for people to put themselves and their families first.
“Go get vaccinated. Protect yourself and your family,” McKenzie said.
Meanwhile, Belle said it has been quite a journey, navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m a little nervous but I’m excited to be here to share,” added Belle, who is also vaccinated. “I’m a touchy-feely, kind of huggy person… not being able to hug people, I found that I was a little depressed.”
In the beginning, the singer-songwriter was not on board with being vaccinated. To ease her fears, Belle said she relied on her doctors.
“I’m grateful to have doctors who are saved,” Belle revealed, adding that she relied on her medical experts for spiritual guidance as well.
“We have to live,” Belle said her doctor plainly told her.
Once she took that message to heart, the rewards of life helped dissipate Bell’s fog of fear.
“Information is key… we have to do the homework,” Belle shared. “We’re not talking about a test that if you fail, you get to do it over. You get one shot at life.”
Belle said it is important to lead by example when it comes to being vaccinated. She said that is the first step community leaders must take if they want to encourage others to get vaccinated.
Belle sang “Let’s Stay Together” as she left the virtual panel stage.
“The vaccine is working, don’t be left out,” added Perkins before Tuckson made a passionate plea to close out the town hall.
“The vaccine has no effect on your fertility,” said the doctor, who added that pregnant women will be putting themselves and their unborn children at risk if they are not vaccinated. “What we know without a doubt, the COVID virus is very dangerous to pregnant women.”
Tuckson then shared his most important reason for choosing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus: “No one in the hospital now (suffering from COVID-19) has been vaccinated.”