SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - On Tuesday the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines after reports of rare but serious blood clots in a handful of women. The recommendation brought up new concerns for those combatting vaccine hesitancy.
St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System has been tackling that issue for a while. St. Joseph’s/Candler is continuing with their mission to help vaccinate underserved populations. So far they have partnered with five area churches to build trust and get vaccines out to as many people as possible.
“For every one that said they would come, we probably had two or three who did not, who said they were not going to take it, or they were going to pray about it, or they were going to think about it and so it’s kind of bittersweet, but more sweet,” said Rev. Dr. Bernard Clarke, pastor of St. Phillip Monumental AME Church in Savannah.
About 100 people were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday thanks to a clinic at the church. To get people to come out, they went door to door and made fliers to raise awareness. St. Joseph’s/Candler found in a survey that a majority of those who did not want to receive the vaccine claimed fear of short and long-term side effects and doubted the vaccine’s safety. Church leaders worked to address these concerns and while some declined the opportunity to get vaccinated, others signed up. But Rev. Dr. Clarke says the recommended pausing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationally did cause additional concerns.
“We heard that today also and yesterday also that we told you the vaccinations were no good, look at what is happening to Johnson & Johnson, and so yes, that will be a dampener, but we hope to overcome that because we all need to be vaccinated. In order for us to be insured that we have a better chance of survival and so it’s still important to us,” said Rev. Dr. Clarke.
Church leaders say while the job isn’t easy, they will continue to empower people with information and the opportunity to be vaccinated. St Joseph’s/Candler will be going to four other churches in the next week and a half and they say the clinics are open to all.