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Reverend Horace Sheffield encouraging the community to get vaccinated

Posted at 11:25 PM, Sep 07, 2021

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The number of people getting the delta variant continues to grow and the majority of adults being hospitalized or even dying are among the non-vaccinated group.

Yet the vaccination rate in urban communities like Detroit remains low. Now the governor's office has enlisted help to spread the word that the vaccine is safe.

Death from COVID-19 can be heart-wrenching.

A Georgia couple died within hours of each other leaving behind two teenagers. Both refused the vaccine until it was too late.

Vietnam Veteran Arlis Swaker, 75-years-old, contracted COVID and now has Long Haulers Syndrome.

“I've got side effects right now, I'm walking on a cane because of COVID, I have numb spots here in my hand and in this one and this knee and this leg the outer thigh is numb,” said Vietnam Veteran Arlis Swaker.

He also warns of the financial burden. His hospital bill was more than $400,000 for his treatment.

“I had to tap into social security, my military pension, and part of my savings because some of the bills they just wouldn't pay,” said Swaker.

Despite examples of death, financial ruin, and failing health there are still those who will not get the vaccine citing skepticism, fear, and the right to say no.

There is FDA approval and data shows those who are vaccinated are unlikely to die or be hospitalized yet 29-year-old Shantique Sanford, a certified nursing assistant is still willing to lose her job over the vaccine.

“We either get the shot or not and if we get the shot, we stay employed and if not, I will now be looking for a job that do not support the vaccine,” said Shantique Sanford.

Her own mom Jeniffer Hall contracted COVID-19.

“I had COVID, I could barely walk two steps. I could barely breathe. I felt like a pound of bricks were on my chest at all times,” said Jeniffer Hall.

Jeniffer Hall has five grown children including Shantique, all unwilling to be vaccinated and all tried to convince their mom not to get the shot.

“I did not want to take the chance of passing away. I have a grandchild. I help take care of my elderly brother, so I had to consider all that,” said Hall.

Now with this new surge from the delta variant the governor's office is enlisting help from local pastors like Bishop Horace Sheffield to spread the word the vaccine is safe with a Public Service Announcement.

Why do you think despite PSA's, you're a pastor, you're out and about, you're a community activist, you do all of these things and yet, people in our community still are saying no to this vaccine?” asked WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford.

“It's irrational quite frankly, in the face of those who have lost loved ones,” said Reverend Horace Sheffield III.

Only 34% of Detroiter's have been vaccinated. Bishop Sheffield has lost five members of his own church and, after beating cancer last year, he also contracted COVID-19.

“It was devastating, I've had long-term effects, I've had nerve damage, two operations on both my hands. COVID is nothing to play with,” said Sheffield.

At the Sheffield Center on Grand River, they hold a vaccination clinic every Thursday, and thanks to a grant Bishop Sheffield and his team have been knocking on 75,000 doors over the last five weeks encouraging people to get the vaccine.

While it's too late for the couple who intended to get the vaccine before they got sick and died, it's not too late for people like Shantique.

The vaccine is FDA approved and data shows it's working. Whether or not this public service announcement will increase the numbers of people getting the vaccine remains to be seen, but if you have still have questions talk to your doctor, your pastor, or your loved ones so you can make the right decision for you and your loved ones.