Six local pastors from the Northside of Lafayette received their COVID-19 vaccines at the Clifton Chenier Center on Friday, March 5.
The religious leaders rolled up their sleeves for the vaccine first to protect themselves but also to encourage members of their communities to be vaccinated.
Four pastors out of the six were receiving their first COVID vaccine on Friday. The other two were receiving their booster.
Lafayette Consolidated Government's Chief of Minority Affairs, Carlos Harvin says that data shows that Black residents are being vaccinated at a lower rate than their white counterparts.
Dr. Tina Stefanski with the Office of Public health says it is important to have these leaders of the community receive their vaccine
We want everyone to have access .... we are working on the access issue and the hesitancy issues in the community," Stefanski said. "People look to their pastors for guidance."
Black individuals she said are disproportionately affected by illness made worse by COVID-19 and that getting vaccinated would better protect them from health complications associated with COVID-19.
Historically African-American communities have had unfortunate experiences with the medical community which has left them with a strong mistrust of medical guidance, especially concerning vaccines, Stefanski said.
"We are battling mis-information," Stefanski said. "Having these individuals armed with the knowledge to share information with their communities is really important."
According to data from the Louisiana Department of Health, of the 33,415 people in Lafayette Parish who had received their first dose of the vaccine, 5,931 were Black and 21,913 were white. Similarly, of the the 17,903 people who had completed their vaccine series, 2,692 were Black and 12,376 were white.
Across the state, of the 713,827 individuals who had received their first dose of the vaccine, 171,746 were Black and 451,781 were white. Of the 404,653 individuals in the state who had completed their COVID vaccine series, 83,722 were Black and 273,302 were white.
See more data from LDH, here.
The department says, however, that data completeness by race should improve as community outreach continues with vaccine providers.
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