Local pastor wants more information before encouraging members to get COVID-19 vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is hope, optimism and caution as a COVID vaccine gets closer to reality here in the mid-south.

The CDC reports African Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19.

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

While some pastors from predominately black churches plan to urge their congregants to get the vaccine, others say they will wait.

“If we want to come out of this pandemic there is definitely measures we have to take and one of those measures would definitely be getting the vaccine,” said Pastor Peris Lester.

Lester said he plans on getting the vaccine and will encourage church members at his Mt. Olive Cathedral CME church to do the same.

He discussed the vaccine with several congregants but he said many are reluctant about receiving the vaccine given the government’s history with giving African Americans vaccines, like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

“When you go back to the Tuskegee experiment and you think about systematic racism and under the current administration trump administration African Americans have not fared as well with the trust factor,” said Lester.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine could be risky for people with extreme allergies, doctors warn

Pastor Earle Fisher isn’t surprised about this reluctance and plans on doing his own research before he decides to get the vaccine.

A Pew Research study from September showed 32 percent of black adults said they would get the vaccine.

“I haven’t spent the last 10 years as a pastor trying to cultivate a congregation of blind sheep that just do what I say, we seek to be an informed congregation so I’ll make sure my congregants have access to all the information,” said Fisher.

The vaccine is expected to be available to the general public in mid-2021, so he expects to know a lot more about vaccines by then.

With the coronavirus hitting the black community hard, Lester said he plans on getting the vaccine to act as an example for his church.

“All of us as citizens should do the responsible thing to get the vaccine, to make sure we will have a bright future,” said Lester.

Both pastors plan on having discussions and providing information to their congregants about the vaccine.