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Miami-Dade mayor, faith leaders encourage community to get vaccinated

Miami-Dade mayor, faith leaders try to combat vaccine hesitancy
Miami-Dade mayor, faith leaders try to combat vaccine hesitancy

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava joined faith leaders Thursday morning at the Zoo Miami vaccination site to encourage members of the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It is our only shot at getting back to normal,” the mayor said.

With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now being halted at vaccination sites across the country, there is a growing demand for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Some people waited in line for more than three hours Wednesday at the vaccination site at Hard Rock Stadium.

Levine Cava urged residents to be patient as we wait for further guidance about that vaccine from the federal government following concerns over blood clotting cases.

The mayor acknowledged that the cases have been extremely rare, with only six confirmed out of 7 million doses that have been administered.

Levine Cava, who was receiving her second dose Thursday along with some faith leaders, reminded the public that those ages 16 and older may now be vaccinated, and she said she hopes that number will drop even lower in the near future.

During Thursday’s press conference, the mayor spoke about the county’s outreach efforts, confirming that their vaccination outreach team has knocked on 30,000 doors to inform the community about how they can receive the vaccine.

They have also depended on faith leaders to help educate and encourage their congregations to get the vaccine.

“Without the vaccine, you can catch COVID and you can spread COVID, and that means you can help COVID mutate into more contagious and deadlier forms,” Pastor Emeritus Walter T. Richardson, of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, said.

Statistically, Black people are the most likely to die from the virus, but are the least likely to get the vaccine.

“Some of them have taken the wait and see. I want to see if you’re going to grow a third arm. I want to see if you’re going to get a fourth, so they’re waiting to see, but while they’re waiting, they’re endangering themselves and others,” Pastor Alphonso Jackson Sr., of Second Baptist Church, said.

Vaccine hesitancy in the Black community stems partly from the nation’s long record of mistreatment.

“I know about the Tuskegee experiment,” Jackson said. “I know that for years they felt we were guinea pigs, but this is life and death and now is the time.”

More than 1 million residents of Miami-Dade County have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Broward County reports that more than 686,000 residents have also received at least one dose.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.