Emotional, first-hand COVID stories from minority leaders used to urge vaccination

Coronavirus

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The pastor of a church, a deputy mayor, and an assistant SU basketball coach shared their first-hand experience with COVID to urge other Blacks and other minorities to get the COVID vaccine.

They shared their experiences at a media event at the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church in Syracuse. The church was the site of a pop-up vaccination clinic taking place on Friday as part of an outreach effort to get the vaccine to as many people as possible.

The media event used the personal COVID stories of Tucker’s pastor, Rev. DeCarto Draper, Jr. Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, and SU Men’s Assistant Basketball coach Allen Griffen to convince other members of the African-American community that COVID is dangerous, and the vaccine is safe.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said just 6.7% of the people vaccinated by Onondaga County are African-American, even though they make up more than 11% of the population. Meanwhile, 83% of vaccine recipients are caucasian, when they make up 80% of the population.

Rev. Draper says he understands fears in the community because of past injustices. But having been hospitalized for COVID, and still fighting the lingering effects of the disease, he said, “I stand here as a representative that we are in support of the vaccine not just for our community, but for every community because COVID is not a racist disease. It knows no color or geographic location.”

Rev. Draper added, “We have the responsibility that when it is our time to take the shot we take responsibility. You can have the side effects, or you can have no side effects and go to the cemetery. Let’s take our community back by taking this vaccine.”

Deputy Mayor Owens said the disease hit her family of four hard. Owens said she had to go to the hospital for her bout with the disease, but she said so many others did not come out.

“CIOVID is not the flu. I’ve had the flu, and what I suffered through was not the flu,” said Owens.

In urging other African-Americans to get the vaccine, Owens said that when her mother who is in her seventies asked about the vaccine, she told her, first check with your doctor. “…but your daughter is telling you to get it.”

New York State has been planning several community-based pop-up vaccination sites in an effort to reach harder to vaccinate populations and ensure equity in the vaccine distribution.

The county and city are also working with respected members of the Latino and Asian Communities to build trust in the vaccine.

Watch the entire event in the video below:

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