Pierce County health officials, church leaders team up to get BIPOC communities vaccinated

Pierce County health officials and church leaders are taking a collaborative approach in getting communities of color vaccinated

In Tacoma, the Shiloh Baptist Church has become a site for vaccinations.  

Will Mitchell, a pastor from across town, was one of those who spread the word about this vaccination clinic to his congregation. 

"There needs to be someone who takes the lead approach. So what we decide to do at Bethlehem Baptist Church on the east side of Tacoma, we try to make mention of this every Sunday," Mitchell said. 

Getting word out about the vaccine has become a priority for faith leaders. 

Communities of color in western Washington and across the country are getting the vaccine at a lower rate than their caucasian counterparts.  

Leah Ford, a representative of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, helped create a partnership with an alliance of Tacoma ministers to combat this issue. 

"The data doesn’t lie. We’re seeing who is disproportionately impacted by the virus. We’re also seeing disproportionate rates when it comes to who is receiving this vaccine. The pastors' message was, ‘this is my population, this is my community. I really want to protect and save lives,’" Ford said.

On Monday, all 300 slots for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were filled at the site with people eligible to get the vaccine.  

"It’s just a really important way for us to reach these communities. Ensure access. Making sure the messages are coming from trusted messengers," said Dr. Anthony Chen, the director of health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. 

The health department saw Monday’s event in Tacoma as such a success that they are planning more in the future.  

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