Florida Taskforce Aims To Get 60% Of People Of Color To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Dec 23, 2020

A statewide taskforce is aiming to get at least 60% of people of color to get the coronavirus vaccine.

The Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Taskforce is enlisting faith leaders, historically Black college and university presidents, elected officials and others to advocate for the vaccine in minority communities. 

“Every American deserves equal access to the vaccine, and we cannot get our economy working unless we get the coronavirus under control. Too many lives have been lost,” North Florida Congressman Al Lawson, D-FL5, a member of the taskforce, said in an email to WJCT News. “We must listen to science and take these necessary steps to contain the virus. It is also imperative we address the disparities facing communities of color and support our heroic health care workers and providers.”

The Rev. R.B. Holmes with Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee is the chair and organizer of the statewide effort.

“I think it is incumbent upon African-American leadership to come together to address how the coronavirus has devastated people of color. If this vaccine is proven to be effective and safe, many of us will be the first to roll up our sleeves and take the vaccine,” he told WJCT News on Wednesday. “We are profoundly aware of the valid reasons for the mistrust of the medical communities.  However, people of color have died and are dying at an alarming level.”

Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be affected by the pandemic than white people, with disproportionate numbers of infections, illnesses and deaths among those groups.

“We need trusted voices in our community to address the importance of the vaccine,” Holmes said. “Also, we must be vigilant that people of color will not be left behind. That includes people in prison and marginalized communities.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.