Paterson officials team up with members of the clergy to encourage residents to get vaccinated
Paterson officials are turning to trusted faith leaders to help get underserved residents of the city vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We’ve seen 10,000 people – over 10,000 people at this point of dispensing [the vaccine]. And not many African American males,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.
Sayegh says that only 1% of those vaccinated in the city have been Black men. The city teamed up with its faith-based community to change that statistic and to encourage eligible members of minority communities to sign up for the vaccine.
“Get rid of doubt…get rid of the fear,” says New Christian Missionary Baptist Church of Paterson Pastor James Salmon.
About a dozen of Paterson’s well-known and trusted clergy members gathered at the city’s vaccination site to lead by example and get the vaccine.
“I didn’t even feel it,” says Salmon.
Salmon is also the chief chaplain at the Passaic County Jail. He says that he was hesitant to get the vaccine himself at first. But now he is encouraging others to do the same, and is praying that this could be the start of seeing people returning to church and other houses of worship.
“I want my congregation to follow me. And my community to follow me, because we are being devastated by COVID,” Salmon says.
The city is also taking it a step further by working with local churches to eventually offer vaccines inside of churches.
Paterson held a similar event a few weeks ago with well-known Black athletes, including some former New York Giants players.