Detroit church educates parishioners amid concerns about racial disparities with COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:16 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-05 09:39:29-05

(WXYZ) — In just weeks millions should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The impact of the pandemic has been a nightmare for dozens of members at Triumph Church who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

The church is one of the largest predominately black congregations in Detroit and around the metro. The lead pastor, Solomon Kinloch Jr. serves on Michigan's Racial Disparities Task Force.

In Michigan, blacks make up nearly 14% of the population, yet they make up 40% of Coronavirus deaths. Action News spoke with Ralph Godbee who is the Chief of Staff to Pastor Kinloch Jr.

"In the black community there's a lot of skepticism," Godbee said. "And, it's somewhat of a catch 22 because if they're [blacks] not offered the vaccine first then there's an insensitivity towards the disproportionate effect on the black community."


Detroit's Mayor Mike Duggan aims to vaccinate 5,000 people a day once the vaccine becomes readily available. Duggan called it an enormous challenge.

Meantime, studies show black people face higher COVID-19 risk but are more hesitant to trust the vaccine. Godbee believes decades of mistrust and abuse is the cause.

"That goes back the Tuskegee experiment and a number of things that has disenfranchised black and brown people in the US," Godbee said. "This is where credibility matters in this conversation."

On Friday, during President-Elect Joe Biden's remarks from his campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, he spoke briefly on how his administration would coordinate the rollout of the vaccine.

"Blacks and Latinos are 3 times as likely to die if they get COVID-19. So, the communities of color it's a mass causality event," Mr. Biden said. "And so, we have to figure out how we make sure we get the vaccines to those communities... delivering a large number of vaccines to the Wal-Mart's and other major drug chains does not get you into a lot of these neighborhoods and it does not guarantee it gets around."

Meanwhile, leaders at Triumph Church are providing the congregation with resources to make an informed decision on whether or not to get the vaccination.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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