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Franciscan Health Michigan City reaches out to church over coronavirus vaccine hesitancy
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Franciscan Health Michigan City reaches out to church over coronavirus vaccine hesitancy

Franciscan Health Michigan City reaches out to church over coronavirus vaccine hesitancy

Pictured from left are Franciscan Health Michigan City pulmonologist Brian Dickover, MD, Franciscan Health Michigan City Community Health Improvement Coordinator Nila Williams, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jacarra Williams and Franciscan Health Michigan City President and CEO Dean Mazzoni.

Franciscan Health Michigan City reached out to local churches to address questions about hesitancy over getting the COVID-19 vaccine that medical experts say is vital to contain the spread of the virus that has killed 3.7 million people worldwide, including more than 610,000 in the United States.

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Franciscan Health officials recently met with Michigan City church congregations, including the  New Hope and at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist churches.

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jacarra Williams said doctors answered his congregation's concerns about the vaccine.

“My job as a shepherd is to feed them spiritually, but it’s also about the total man. So, when there’s sickness, we need to bring in the right people,” Williams said.

“The majority of our seniors did go out and get vaccinated,” Pleasant Hill Pastor James Lane said. "The interesting thing is trying to get the younger generation to understand how important it is for them to get vaccinated. Their view is if I get it, more than likely, I’ll survive it. So, I’m not going to put that stuff in my body.”

Franciscan Health Michigan City President and CEO Dean Mazzoni and Community Health Improvement Coordinator Nila Williams also brought information to the churches.

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“Like many communities around the nation, we see in our community disparities in health and wellness based on race and ethnicity. And the pandemic has served to shine a bright light on these differences,” Mazzoni said.

Williams said the conversation inspired some church members — even those who heard about it second-hand — to get vaccinated.

“The ones that were a little leery, they now feel confident because they were able to ask those questions and get a definite answer,” he said. “When you have so much social media out there with misinformation, it’s so important to get the right information.”

Both pastors have been pushing to get most of their congregations vaccinated against the deadly disease that greatly disrupted daily life across much of the world.

“The discussions have been robust with many questions from the church attendees being fielded by our physician experts. There is so much misinformation about the virus and vaccinations out in the social media sphere, it’s important that we make our doctors available to cut through misleading and confusing information,” Mazzoni said. “Pastor Lane and Pastor Williams have shown that they truly care about their congregations. Not only are they spiritual leaders in our community, but they care about the health and well-being of their church membership.”

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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