Whole Truth Tabernacle (WTT) is a predominantly African-American church located in Northeast Wichita in a low-income impoverished community. Pastor Michael L. Tyson Sr. researched and found low Covid-19 vaccination rates among church congregants, especially in surrounding neighborhoods.
Pastor Tyson has begun a campaign to highlight different congregation members that are vaccinated against Covid-19 as one of their many projects associated with the ‘Kansas Beat The Virus’ campaign to increase the vaccination rate.
“I know that the thought of this vaccine for some is horrifying, particularly the unknown. I struggle with some of those same ideas myself, but the reality is that this vaccine is very safe and effective in many cases,” said Pastor Tyson.
Pastor Tyson interviewed a few of his church’s congregants to get their perspective on the Covid-19 vaccine and why they took it. Curtis & Margaret Johnson are church members and are the first to be featured in, ‘Why I got the Covid-19 vaccine shot?’ campaign. They explained that there were several reasons why they decided to get the Covid-19 vaccination.
Mr. Curtis Johnson has a serious autoimmune disease, and they wanted to cover him so that if he were to contract Covid again, the symptoms might not be as severe that could lead to death. The contraction of Covid-19 came to both Mr. Johnson and his wife, and they explained that it was a tough time, both being ill at the same time. Mrs. Johnson stated that one of their daughters helped out with runs to the store for supplies as needed. They both had some time in the hospital. Curtis, 61, had four days in the hospital with breathing issues and a Lupus flare-up, and Margaret, 58, had to get re-hydrated after some fainting episodes. They explained that they didn’t want to have a repeat illness of the virus if at all possible.
The Johnsons have grown children abroad, and they wanted to ensure that they could catch a flight to them should an emergency arise. It has become apparent that they would not travel outside of the country without the vaccine. Additionally, if New Zealand and Australia were to open up their borders again, they wanted to be ready to visit if vaccinations were required for air travel. Both the Johnson’s were diagnosed with COVID-19 in December 2020, and it could’ve been one of the scariest moments they ever experienced. Fortunately, they were able to make it through with their lives by having faith and trusting God. Additionally, by wearing their mask and getting vaccinated, they wanted to ensure they did their part to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Some feel that they are a part of the solution by getting the vaccine and that widespread vaccination is essential to ending the pandemic. For some it has become a tough decision because of so many rumors surrounding the vaccine.
Trusted sources of information were essential tools to help people make informed decisions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. WTT believes that there is nothing wrong with asking people what they think about the vaccine and never jumping on the defense or becoming judgmental.
Since the pandemic’s beginning, the scientific and medical community has been paying particular attention to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on specific racial and ethnic groups. For example, in Chicago, non-Hispanic Black people in highly segregated neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty and lower levels of education, income, and employment have experienced increased death rates from COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), another study on COVID-19 deaths in major cities showed 34% of deaths among non-Hispanic Black people. However, this group makes up only 12% of the U.S. population. Pastor Tyson stated that as a Black person and pastor, he understands vaccine hesitancy. He continued that although the vaccine may be effective, it still should be up to the individual to decide whether they want to be vaccinated.
WTT decided to take the message into the Northeast Wichita communities most affected by COVID-19. According to multiple reports, African-Americans are the highest unvaccinated ethnic group in Wichita and the State of Kansas. WTT has collaborated with the Community Voice newspaper to feature individuals who have decided to get the vaccine against Covid-19 and work, live and worship God right in their communities.
WTT will have a vaccination clinic at 2932 E 21st St on October 9, 2021, from noon to 3:00 p.m.