ALTON, Ill. (KMOV.com) - The pastor of a church in Alton is using his platform to reach out to those hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Statistics show the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting the African American community. Blacks make up 12 percent of the United States population but account for 18 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Statistics show there is vaccine hesitancy in the African American community. A survey from the NAACP found 55 percent of the black respondents knew someone who contracted COVID-19, but only 14 percent believed they thought the vaccine would be safe.

Pastor David Goins of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Alton, Illinois is one of several pastors from predominantly black churches and organizations that are working on their own and with help of the Madison County Health Department to reach out to the community and encourage older minority residents to get the vaccine.

"All pastors are encouraged, especially African American pastors, are encouraged to get the vaccine themselves to set the example for their membership," Goins said.

Goins said he recently used the the event of Perseverance Rover landing on Mars to convince a woman in his congregation that the vaccine is safe, saying if a rover can be put on Mars, then fast-tracked vaccine can still be safe.

"We have great minds in the medical field that can do some marvelous things that we've never thought of," he said.

Goins' wife Shiela got both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying she was very hesitant at first. She is now encouraging others to get the vaccine as well.  Tuesday, a phone line opened for those 65 and older to get the vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Collinsville.  A National Guard Mobil Vaccination team will run the operation each Monday for the next few months. Appointments can be made by dialing 618-465-4269, extension 10.

The group says it will start with 200 doses and hopes to expand if more become available. It will also provide transportation for those who needed.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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