Physicians and faith leaders from North Texas teamed up for frank and honest conversations that dispel misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. Nine local faith leaders from churches with largely African American congregations sat down with physicians from those communities to record video conversations addressing the most common myths about the vaccines.
“I receive numerous questions about the COVID-19 vaccines from people in my congregation,” said Pastor Patrick Winfield, Campus Pastor of The Potter’s House of Fort Worth, one of the participating faith leaders. “I feel compelled to do everything I can to dispel the myths and build trust with physicians within in our community so that people will feel more comfortable being vaccinated. This kind of information helped me feel comfortable enough to be vaccinated,” continued Winfield,” continued Winfield.
The nine video-recorded conversations cover an array of topics, including: fertility and childbearing, the inclusion of African Americans in vaccine clinical trials, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and building trust between African American and medical communities.
“We have a long history of African Americans distrusting medical institutions because of unfortunate past events,” shared Pastor Richie Butler, Senior Pastor of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in East Dallas. “The conversations we put together in these videos should give our congregations and people in the community a high level of trust in the vaccines and doctors that are serving our families and neighbors. Ultimately, we want to dispel all of the terrible misinformation that is out there,” continued Butler.
The video outreach project was created by the North Texas Medical Society Coalition, representing approximately 12,000 physicians in the Collin–Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County medical societies. In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Texas, physicians in these county medical societies came together to provide education, outreach, and science-based information to residents about all aspects of COVID-19. Most recently, the Coalition has looked for ways to increase vaccine uptake in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“Physicians have been on the front lines of this pandemic and have seen the horrendous toll it has taken on individuals, families, and entire communities,” says John Flores, MD, an internal medicine specialist from Kittle Elm and Chair of the Coalition. “After the vaccines were approved, we began looking to do everything we could to promote vaccination. It is our best way out of this pandemic,” continued Dr. Flores.
“Across North Texas, we know that many residents live in one county but may work, engage in social activities, or attend church in a different county,” added Beth Kassanoff-Piper, MD, an internal medicine specialist from Dallas and Vice-chair of the Coalition. “We did not want people to get mixed messages across the region, so the Coalition came together to share the same science-based information so that residents received consistent messages from the medical community,” added Dr. Kassanoff-Piper.
The faith leaders participating in the project include:
Caesar Rentie, Vice President of Pastoral Services, Methodist Health System, Dallas
Marcus D. King, Senior Pastor, Disciple Central Community Church, DeSoto
Lamont Ross, Senior Minister, Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ, Oak Cliff
Richie Butler, Senior Pastor, St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, East Dallas
Deborah Morgan, Senior Minister, East Dallas Christian Church, Dallas
Kwesi R. Kamau, Lead Pastor, IMPACT Church, North Dallas
Julian Hobdy, First Methodist Church, Mansfield
Irie L. Session, Co-pastor, The Gathering, A Womanist Church, Dallas
Patrick Winfield, Campus Pastor, The Potter’s House of Fort Worth
The Coalition hopes to record additional faith leader and physician conversations throughout North Texas in the coming months in order to further support COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
All nine video conversations can be viewed online at bit.ly/PhysiciansAndFaith
Dallas County Medical Society