Can Faith Leaders’ Vaccine Selfies Rebuild Public Trust?
Late last year, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kemp received a text message from one of his congregants. The congregant wrote that her mother was in a long-term care facility, but she didn’t know if it was a good idea for her mother to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it became available. Kemp, the senior pastor at San Antonio’s Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, is also a pulmonary and critical care physician. He’s treated COVID-19 patients, researched the vaccine data, and believes the benefits far outweigh the risks. So he texted back, outlining the importance of the vaccine. He didn’t tell the woman what to do, but he shared the data he had. “And this member of my church said, ‘OK, I feel better about this now, and I want my mother to get the vaccine,’” Kemp told Sojourners.
When Rev. Ann Helmke, who leads San Antonio’s Faith-Based Initiative, invited Kemp to sign an interfaith pledge to publicly take the COVID-19 vaccine, he was quick to say yes. Part of the pledge involves sharing a selfie of the vaccination process on social media. “If we’re going to reach 70 percent immunization or immunity in our community, we’re only going to do it if people trust the process," Kemp said.