INDIANAPOLIS — As the COVID-19 vaccine goes into arms across the country there is still hesitation.
"As a relatively younger black man, I've certainly heard for a while some of the mistrust as it relates to healthcare, as it relates to the history of Black folks and healthcare. But is important for us to realize that times have changed," Greg Stowers Jr. said.
The importance of the COVID-19 vaccine mixed, and the danger of misinformation has inspired Stowers to use his connections as the Key Club International Director for Kiwanis International to spread facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. It's a goal the city of Indianapolis has set through its COVID Community Ambassador Program.
"Just making sure people understand that it is safe. That is important for a variety of standpoints that we all get vaccinated when we think about the next steps for our city, the next steps for our region. With a lot of major events coming up it's important that people go out and get vaccinated," Stowers said.
The city is asking Hoosiers to sign up and take a pledge to be as involved as they can, by taking steps to spread factual information or help a family member sign up for their vaccine shot and even drive them to their appointment. It's the same kind of community outreach members of Eastern Star Church took upon themselves to provide for their community.
"I feel it's our church's responsibility to help people make an informed decision. We don't tell people to get the vaccine or not get it. But we want them to hear the truth. Hear the facts," Pastor Jeffery Johnson said.
Johnson has already had his vaccine shot and is now on a mission to let other people know it is safe. It'll be a topic of discussion in a special COVID-19 program his church is producing and now streaming. With COVID-19 being a life-or-death situation Eastern Star is bringing in well-known health experts like Dr. Virginia Caine and former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to answer questions and dispel some of the myths about getting vaccinated.
"Because a lot of stuff we hear, some of it, it just is not true," Johnson said. "I understand Black people and their hesitancy to trust the government giving them a drug. I get that. But at least hear the truth. At least hear the facts and hear it from these people that have demonstrated to us their concern for us."
The city will send out an email with factual information for ambassadors to share. If you are interested in becoming a Covid Community Ambassador, you can sign up by going to https://www.indy.gov/topic/covid
Eastern Star's COVID-19 special is streaming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY-MG2l1I3A