The Faith Leaders Church Initiative has formed the African American Health Care Clinician Workgroup to establish a more balanced access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the community.
(January 17, 2021) – Interested community members are invited to participate in a discussion to expedite the distribution of COVID vaccines to the community, with a special emphasis on the African American community.
A press conference is planned for 1 pm, Monday, January 18, 2021 on the steps of the Jacob’s Building in Chilhowee Park on Magnolia Ave. Registration begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone in attendance is expected to wear a mask and maintain social distancing according to CDC guidelines.
“This is an important move for our community. We have amassed an army of volunteers to be in place at the very moment, we are called upon to give vaccines, educate and be a support system for this giant body of work. Getting everyone vaccinated is the key to getting our country back into full swing,” stated Cynthia Finch, LMSW.
The AA Health Care Clinician Workgroup consists of doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health workers and non-medical volunteers, many of color, ready to deploy when they are called upon to help to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Organizations in the workgroup includes, the Knoxville Branch of the NAACP, Chi Eta Phi Sorority – Black Nursing Sorority, and the East TN National Panhellenic Council (15 Black Greek Letter Organizations in East Tennessee).
“It makes a difference, when someone that looks like you, are the ones that vaccinates you,” said Juanita Cannon. A retired Knoxville educator and resident. Cannon received her vaccination at the Knox County Health Department. The tier distribution category, ages 75+, are currently being vaccinated in Knoxville-Knox County.
The Knoxville chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. boast over 60 black nurses among its members according to Darnetta Brown, NP and chapter president. “We are ready to go. We are ready to put the shot in every citizen’s arm,” said Brown. Its members are currently registering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), which is a database of volunteers, medical and non-medical to help with vaccine distribution.
Surveys have shown that as the first COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered across the country, Black Americans remain among the groups that have the least confidence in the vaccine, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Kaiser study found that 35% of Black Americans would probably or definitely not get the vaccine if it was determined to be safe by scientists and widely available for free.
“A key to getting the word out to the African American community is using trusted people that our community will listen to and believe in,” states Vice-Mayor Gwen McKenzie. “This is one of many strategies that the Faith Leaders and their partners are using to push out the message about vaccines and choice.”
The Knoxville Branch of the NAACP has committed to be involved from an educational, access and a social justice standpoint. “The fact that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, results in more deaths in people of color and limited access to the vaccine is a problem,” states Rev. Samuel Brown the newly elected Knoxville Branch of the NAACP President. “We want our people vaccinated; we want to “FIGHT” to “WIN” against this virus.”
All persons, organizations, and entities interested in helping to expediting this effort should contact,
ABOUT: This is a coordinated effort of the Faith Leaders Church Initiative in partnership with the black nurses of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., and the East Tennessee National Panhellenic Council.