Officials ramp up COVID vaccine outreach toward reluctant parents


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — With the COVID-19 vaccine approval for 5- to 11-year-olds, the decision on whether a child gets the shot ultimately lies in the hands of their parents. That’s why trusted leaders in local communities are ramping up efforts to reach hesitant parents.

Pastor Daren Jaime from The People’s AME Zion Church in Syracuse said hesitancy is especially present in the minority communities that he serves. Those communities have much lower vaccination rates. Jaime said lack of transportation and information are two reasons why this number is so low.

“We understand that everyone has different beliefs and we respect the fact that somebody has hesitancy,” he said. “Our job is just to give information and create awareness and, hopefully, to mitigate some of that hesitancy, but if not we still respect and love people and respect what they’re gonna do.”

This message isn’t new for Pastor Jaime. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he’s been using his platform to spread factual information about the vaccine and provide his community members access to the shot if they want it. Earlier this year, he hosted a pop-up vaccine clinic at his church.

There already are a number of places parents can sign their child up to receive the lower dose Pfizer vaccine including at schools, pharmacies, and pediatrician’s offices. Still, Jaime said he is talking with Onondaga County about potentially bringing another clinic for the newly approved age group to the People’s Church.

“If our doors need to be open, of course, our doors will be open,” Pastor Jaime said. “We do have a large population of young people right in our community, and if parents and guardians want to make sure that their child is vaccinated and they can get to a church, that’s easily accessible. Our doors are always open to help with the vaccination effort.”

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