Faith Based Efforts Work in Vaccine Uptake: Now Let’s Make it Easy

On July 28, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) released findings from the second wave of national polling on religion and COVID-19. The study revealed that vaccine acceptance has increased since March, and findings suggest faith-based approaches contributed to this change. "It's absolutely clear that faith-oriented, faith-sensitive ambassador and community health worker approaches have been an important part of vaccine uptake,” Eboo Patel, IFYC founder and president, remarked. While the number of vaccine hesitant individuals has declined and refusers have largely held steady, there are still opportunities to move people toward acceptance. Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI, had this to say about the potential of faith-based approaches among the unvaccinated: "Even among those who are hesitant or refusers, we still see continued opportunities to make a significant difference in the work going forward." This polling also identified logistical barriers to vaccination that are posing challenges for some, including portions of Black, Hispanic, and younger Americans.

The event was hosted by John Palfrey, President of the MacArthur Foundation. PRRI's Natalie Jackson and Rush University's Dr. Tanya Sorrell joined Patel and Jones on the expert panel. To view a PDF of slides presented at the July 28, 2021, webinar, click here: PRRI IFYC Vaccine And Religion II Presentation. A complete transcript, as well as a link to the webinar recording, are available below.  

Full Transcript

John: On behalf of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which I have the privilege to be president of we're very glad to be helping to fund this work and today I'm very honored to be able to be moderating this conversation. From the outset, I just want to say why this is so important to a large funder like MacArthur, we are not a funder that has done a lot of work in health equity zone but like many others we found that in the pandemic, the way in which these issues associated with COVID-19 and the recovery intersected with many things that we care about, and we felt like we had to step forward and do more.

Our approach was to raise a series of bonds, $125 million in bonds so that we'd be able to do this work, as well as to keep our other programs going and we're so honored to be partnering with a great team today in helping to bring out this work and to have this conversation.

I think that you are all aware that we're here because there's a second round of survey findings that has come forth we congratulate the team on the release of these data today which are already in the news media and we get a firsthand, front row seat here to be able to discuss it with a group of experts. This is of course highlighting religious identities and the race against the virus and it's the largest study conducted to date focusing on the dynamics of how faith-based interventions can mitigate vaccine hesitancy and resistance.

This study which is conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and IFYC from whom you will hear shortly reveals that faith-based approaches supporting vaccine uptake can influence key hesitant groups to get vaccinated and it's a vital tool, as we seek to recover in an equitable way and inclusive way from this pandemic. I would say MacArthur is particularly proud to support IFYC’s implementation strategies and we encourage our philanthropic partners to get involved in this way.

A couple things that we will learn from the report just to lodge a few in your head, as we go forward, vaccine hesitancy, the good news, is down and acceptance is up,  faith-based approaches still have the potential to be effective for hesitant and refusing groups we know there are many out there. There is evidence that these strategies have impacted decisions by individuals within communities so that is extremely positive news. The opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake are evident in substantial portions of Black, Hispanic and younger Americans reporting logistical barriers to getting vaccinated so these are, I think, very important findings from the perspective of public policy and those who are trying to ensure the infrastructure is there for vaccination partisanship education age remain key dividing factors in attitudes related to this vaccine. So, as we all struggle with what these data are telling us, we can learn from them they will give us a roadmap I think to find our way forward again through, through this time into a more equitable inclusive recovery, and I'm excited that we're joined by such great thinkers who are here with us today. Let me just introduce you briefly Eboo, Robbie, Natalie, and Tanya, with their official bios and I'm going to turn it over to Robbie to begin.

So, first off let me just read to you the short bios of each of these extraordinary people. So first off, a boo Patel founded IFYC on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than the barrier of division.

He served an advisor role to the Obama administration is a sought after and much very well-regarded speaker, and has written several books including Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership, and Out of Many Faiths.

Dr Tanya Sorrell is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, Director of the Illinois regional leadership centers for regions one and two and assistant director of the Great Lakes NIH and Ida clinical trials network node. Her publications focus on usually using culturally based approaches to improve Behavioral Health and Substance treatment of rural and urban underserved populations.

Natalie Jackson is director of research at PRRI, she has spent the last fifteen years developing extensive expertise in the survey research process as well as quantitative political science. Her research on how people form opinions has appeared in peer reviewed journals and edited volumes.

And last but certainly not least, and the person who will kick us off from here, Robert P Jones is CEO and founder of PRRI and the leading scholar and commentator on religion, culture and politics is the author of White too Long, the Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, and The End of White Christian America. You can see him regularly writing online and on television, related to politics culture, religion for the Atlantic online NBC Think, and other institutions, if I might, I'll turn it over to Robbie to take us away.

Right.

Robbie: Well thanks John. Thank you, all of you for joining us today I'm going to just say a very quick brief remarks and then hand it over to Natalie who will walk us through the first set of findings, just want to emphasize how, pleased we are to be in this partnership with IFYC that is a unique partnership between research and practice and implementation. I think you'll see that, more of that later but you know this is the second wave as john said the research we did one wave in March, driving some interventions into the summer and then we're doing another wave this summer driving interventions into the fall. Each of these is a feedback loop into the research as well so we're very pleased with that.

And I will, you'll hear more from me in just a moment, but I will turn it over to Natalie Jackson to walk us through the beginning of the presentation, get this up.

Natalie: Great, thank you.

Robbie Can you share the presentation mode Yep. Perfect. So, just a little bit about the survey. The survey that we're talking about today is wave two of a very large survey that we've conducted on vaccines, religion, hesitancy and lots of other things that you'll see pieces of throughout today's presentation, and we can dive really pretty deeply into religious groups and into demographic subgroups. Because this is a large survey, the total sample size is 5851, and that means is we have a relatively small margin of error, but as with any survey of course there is of course a margin of error on it. This Survey was conducted in June and the first survey was conducted in March.  So, with that, we will jump into some of the key findings.

First off, just to set the stage.

We have seen considerable increase in vaccine acceptance since March. This is in line with numbers that the CDC has put out, and we have sixty-seven percent, as of June, vaccinated with at least one dose.

And we're a little bit beyond that now as you know a little bit of time has passed but that that was pretty close to the CDC count. At the end of June. We've seen a substantial decrease in the number of Americans who are vaccine hesitant. It does seem like people who said they wanted to wait and see really did want to wait and see what would happen so we've had a reduction in the wait and see people from nineteen percent to ten percent overall hesitancy is decreased from twenty-eight percent to fifteen percent, the less great news is that the vaccine refusers have held steady, so people who don't want to get the vaccine, still don't really want to get the vaccine, and we'll talk about a couple of exceptions to that. But that's the overall landscape.

We will go next to religious groups. So, at the, the least vaccine acceptant religious groups are Hispanic Protestants and white evangelical Protestants. We do see that both of them have increased in vaccine acceptance by more than ten percentage points, since March. However, white evangelicals remain about a quarter refusers. And the good news with Hispanic Protestants is that whereas forty-two percent were hesitant in March, now it's reduced to twenty-six percent.

If we look at the next set of religious groups we have a cluster that are above that seventy percent mark that the US was kind of aiming for, to get us into, possibly a herd immunity status, so white mainline Protestants, these are anybody who's not evangelical, religiously unaffiliated people, other Christians, this includes Jehovah’s witnesses, this includes Christians of color that are not in any of the other subgroups, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics and Jewish people. These are all almost ¾ or more vaccine accepting. Now I want to particularly point out the jump in Hispanic Catholic acceptance since March, this group has moved the most, there were fifty-six percent accepters in March and have moved to eighty percent.

Another, and the center group that's still missing here we’ll bring those up. We say that these groups Latter Day Saints, black Protestants, other Protestants of color. These groups are hanging around the two thirds of vax accepted, Mark. One important note about black Protestants, is that their reluctance has decreased their hesitancy has decreased as well as their refusal rate. This is one of those exceptions.

In March, nineteen percent said they would refuse to get the vaccine, and in June that's dropped to thirteen percent, so that that's a good second good news story that we have from this slide. Moving on to partisanship. And if you're on this webinar you're interested in this topic you probably are aware of the partisan split in vaccine acceptance and refusal.

We have democrats at eighty-five percent accepted. Only four percent refuser. For independents, just above that seventy percent mark. Only twelve percent refuse or rate. and the Republicans kind of lagging behind. Still more than sixty percent, so not, not too terrible, they have increased the most over there March rate. And that's an eighteen-percentage point increase. But still, one in five are say they won't get vaccinated at all. So, we take a closer look to Republicans since we have, you know this very large data set. And we, the first cut that we are going to look at is conspiracy theory beliefs. So, we asked some questions on the survey about belief in Q anon conspiracy theories.

Those who believe in Q anon conspiracy theories are less likely to be vaccine-accepting. You see that at the very bottom there that forty-five percent vaccine acceptance.

Thirty-seven percent say they will refuse to get the vaccine. That's quite a bit more than most other republican groups, even within this, you know, diving into the republican subcategories.

People who really kind of don't think Q-anon is a thing and people who reject Q-anon are much more likely to be vaccine accepting. The other split that we took a closer look at his news sources So, among Republicans who trust mainstream news, most out of TV news sources. There, almost eighty percent of that vaccine acceptant seventy-seven percent, very few refusers. Fox news is actually not that far behind either sixty-four percent of Republicans who trust Fox News, and are vaccine accepting.

So, you know, that's an interesting note as we see a recent pivot in the last week to two weeks with Fox News. Remember this data was collected in June, so you know the, those were not necessarily the Republicans that were falling so far behind. When we get to Republicans who don't watch TV news, or who trust far right news this would be One American News network, or Newsmax, or similar. We see much less vaccine acceptance, particularly among the far-right news trusters, this is only about five percent of Republicans, but forty-six percent indicate that they are vaccine refusers, which is a very large chunk. And then finally, if we split Republicans by religion we hear, hear about how white evangelical Protestants are very active within the party. We do see a divide there as well. White Evangelical Republicans are lagging behind and vaccine acceptance rates compared to those who are any other religion. And, again, white Evangelicals have a higher refusal rate than other groups.

When we looked at this in March, we picked out the all the groups that had fifty percent or more in the vaccine hesitant, or refuser or category. And those are these groups.

 So how have they progressed. Well, if we look at the religious groups that hit that fifty percent plus mark, we see that white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Protestants are still at the top end, they, they're still experiencing the highest rates of hesitancy and refusal.

With, of course, again, white evangelicals notable for their high refusal rate. Down at the bottom we have Latter Day Saints, Black Protestants, and other Protestants of color who remain more hesitant than refusing or, notably with some reduction in the refusal rates for them.

Then in the middle we have rural Americans, Republicans, multiracial Americans, young Americans, and all Black Americans, most of whom have remained steady in their refusals and have decreased in their hesitancy.

So, the good news from this slide is that all of these groups were at or above fifty percent hesitant, and refuser in March. And now, everyone is forty percent or below, we really only have white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Protestants hanging out near that forty percent mark, everyone else has fallen much lower. So, we do see a lot of success in reducing hesitancy in particular, among groups that were very hesitant.

And from there I will hand it over to Robbie.

Robbie: Great. Thanks, Natalie. Well, that's kind of the lay of the land of kind of how things have progressed between March and June, and I'm going to turn to talk specifically about the impact of faith-based approaches on vaccine uptake.

So here what we did in the survey is that we tested the impact of ten faith-based approaches on vaccine acceptance.

And I’m going to turn to talk specifically about the impact of faith-based approaches on vaccine uptake. So here what we did in the survey is that we tested the impact of 10 faith-based approaches on vaccine acceptance. And these are things that were getting underway in our March survey data and were more underway in the spring.

And there are a range of things that as you can see here I won't read them all but you know a, you could get the vaccine at a nearby religious congregation,  areligious leader you trust got the vaccine or community held a forum to discuss the safety of the vaccine, so these kinds of interventions and then we asked people of both who had been vaccinated and who were still hesitant, or refusers whether these kinds of interventions, had made a difference if they gotten a vaccine or whether they would make a difference in if they had not gotten a vaccine and so I'm going to present that data to you now.

So first, what does it look like among the people who, who are vaccinated? And we asked him whether one or more of these faith-based approaches made them more likely to get a shot in the arm. Here the numbers of some key religious groups.

Overall, and you can see the effects are actually pretty large um they have upwards of 40% of Hispanic Protestants, that three and 10 African American Protestants, a quarter of Hispanic Catholics and a little more than one in five white evangelical Protestants.

Say that who got vaccinated say that one or more of these states, based approaches made them more likely to do it, the effects are a little smaller among white Catholics and white mainline Protestants.

But it’s notable. I think particularly among places like Latino Protestants and white evangelical Protestants were in their communal context, this was sort of a headwind.

There was a lot of refusal a lot of skepticism. And so, in fact this big saying that it pushed them over the line. It was a fairly large one. And then if we look at those who are kind of more closely attached to religious institutions. These are people who attend religious services regularly, at least a few times a year, that the effects are even larger, right, so among the Latino Protestants it’s actually majority of them who say that one or more of these faith-based approaches made them more likely to get vaccinated.

It’s 4 in 10 of African American Protestants who attend regularly, Forty-five percent of Hispanic Catholics and a quarter of white evangelical Protestants again, who say this was something that helped me make the decision to get vaccinated so that's among the vaccinated. We’ll take a couple of different looks at among those who still remain today hesitant, or refusers you know it could be that.

In the spring, everyone who was going to be moved by faith-based approach could have been moved that we don't find that in fact we find that people in the hesitant, who still are in the hesitant or refuser category continue to tell us that these approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated so here I'm looking just at all Americans, just among those who are hesitant, the dark bars are our latest data, the dotted bars are March, we find basically still even after so many had moved into the accepted category, still about a quarter of those who are hesitant today say that these faith-based approaches will make them more likely to get vaccinated. And, and even one in ten of those who currently say they refuse to get vaccinated say that this might make them more likely to get to get vaccinated that number is actually slightly up since March, so a little more openness there. The effects are slightly less strong among those who seldom or never attend, but still considerable about one in five of even those who seldom and never attend services say a faith-based approach would make them more likely to get vaccinated, but they're considerably strong among those who attend religious services regularly about four of ten of those who are hesitant, say, and in return religions that say that a faith based approach to make them more likely and, notably I think even about one in five of those who are currently refusers and attend religious services regularly say, this will make them more likely to get vaccinated so that's Americans kind of by attendance overall break this down just a little bit more to see some of these key religious groups, particularly a couple that are at the top here who have been lagging behind other religious groups and other Americans and the two we've been talking about a lot are Latino Protestants and white Evangelical Protestants.

Again we, here we see the opportunity. So, this is again among people who are hesitant among Latino Protestants who are hesitant nearly half 44% say that one or more of these faith-based approaches and make them more likely to get a vaccine among white evangelical Protestants. We have nearly three in ten, who are has it today saying, faith-based approach to make them more likely to get vaccinated, about one in ten, even have those who are refusers.

The last verse there just mean we don't have enough sample size in that category to break out, to break out an answer. And among white Catholics is about three in ten, as well. So again, even among those who are hesitant, or refusers, we still see continued opportunities to make a significant difference in the work going forward.

And then finally, beyond the issues of hesitancy are issues of access and one of the things we asked in the survey was how, what kinds of barriers do people face and how, how much are they, one of the reasons why they have not gotten vaccinated so we asked specifically about taking time off from work and whether people worried about missing work, because the side effects, perhaps of getting vaccinated, where they lack childcare, lack transportation, getting somewhere and the ones I have here worries about taking time off from work so you can see about. And again, this is also among those who are hesitant, or refusers who have not gotten vaccinated, but a quarter of Americans say taking time off, is one of the reasons they worry about taking time off. One of the reasons they haven't gotten vaccinated and among certain groups. This numbers are really high.

 Again Latino Protestants, young people African American protestants all around four in ten saying, this is a significant concern for them drops a little bit among Republicans and more down around a quarter for white evangelical Protestants where it's less salient but again these are fairly large numbers, and then we asked about childcare and transportation, less concerns there but still among some groups, about one in five say that each of these are significant barriers to then getting vaccinated so we're talking about I'm going to hand it off to you here in just a minute to talk about interventions and what we can do. But I think the data spells out, you know, a fairly clear recipe that really comes down to helping people overcome concerns and hesitancy become more comfortable, but and also removing these, these access challenges that people have to get a vaccine. The good news is that because religious communities are embedded in local communities, they're actually quite good at doing all these things. They’re trusted organizations, they do things like childcare and transportation all the time and are really well equipped to do these kinds of interventions. So, with that, Eboo, I will turn it over to you.

Eboo: Excellent, thank you so much. So, you know, a lot of the news has been bad about COVID and the vaccine recently. Right. And I think part of what's powerful about this data is that there are some things that you know we in the community of wanting to get, of wanting to get people vaccinated should feel quite good about, and one is real headline is that the numbers of people who have moved from hesitant to accepting are quite remarkable, right, and look, just because you're accepting doesn't mean you're comfortable. And so we think we're at the kind of phase where, where we need to be focusing our efforts in encouraging the uncomfortable and really vaccinating the persuaded, and it's absolutely clear that faith-oriented, faith-sensitive ambassador and community health worker approaches have been an important part of this. And I just want to say, you know, there's, there's two hundred or so people on this webinar, thank you so much for joining, a lot of the people are leads and participants in the faith of the vaccine ambassador program, and thank you so much for your work, the work that you've done in rural communities in urban communities and white evangelical communities and African American Protestant communities, etc. etc. And the fact that you are on this call is kind of a beautiful illustration of the next slide that that I want to show here.

It's this powerful partnership between IFYC and PRRI in the centrality of integrating learnings into practice right, I think what's powerful about these numbers, is that is this research informs practice and interventions, and it leads to persuasion and vaccinations and so we start with the national survey. We did our first one with PRRI in late winter early spring. We do that this kind of thing we do launches and discussions and we kind of distill key learnings as we're doing this we are recruiting ambassadors, we are integrating the learnings from these really comprehensive national surveys into the trainings that we're doing with programs like the faith in the vaccine ambassadors that IFYC has launched. Those ambassadors from 200 different institutions. Nearly 2000 ambassadors are then doing exceptional work in the field, they're persuading people, they're vaccinating people. We gather learnings for the field right so ambassadors will have received surveys and phone calls from our evaluation team, what's working, what's not working so well what should we do more of what should we not do more of, we integrate those qualitative learnings from the field back into interventions and trainings and they also feed into the kinds of questions we asked the national

survey, and this is a ton of a really powerful research, learning, intervention feedback loop that we've got with PRRI and IFYC, frankly, our hope was that we would run this in the spring in the summer and then by fall it would be over. We're not getting that hope, right. We, we, it is probably the case that this kind of research and intervention partnership is going to, is going to be very relevant in for several months perhaps over a year to come.

Next slide.

So a little bit about the faith in the vaccine ambassador program, so it's, it is basically an iteration on a well-known, national and global model which is a community health worker or public health worker model where you're engaging trusted messengers in trusted institutions to really advocate for and to facilitate key public health interventions, like vaccinations.

The model that we were able to put into place at IFYC in partnership with PRRI includes over 100 college campuses and includes over at civic institutions largely congregations of faith-based nonprofits, and we're approaching about 2000 individual ambassadors. Our role at IFYC is first to partner with PRRI for the survey. They do the heavy lifting on that they're in my mind the best survey shop in the nation. IFYC recruits institutions and ambassadors and we train them, we resource them.

We network that we support them in the field, we glean qualitative learnings that then go back into the next iteration of the intervention, and that feed into that feed into the quantitative surveys that PRRI takes the lead on.

So just to give you all a flavor of the type of colleges, universities, we're working with. So, this is what these are the colleges and universities nationwide and, and many of you again are represented on this call and I just I just think that's awesome. You know, this is not a requirement, right, you're here to learn and to improve the work that you're doing day to day week to week to persuade folks, and to get them vaccinated. And one of the things you'll note is that there are a number of colleges universities in urban areas, quite proximate to African American communities and to Latino communities. And there's also a number of communities that are part of the CCCU, which is the more Evangelical-oriented consortium of Christian colleges, and so we really wanted to mobilize in communities that that our research showed, particularly were needed proactive efforts around vaccination.

Next slide.

This is the spread across the country. You'll see there's a concentration of the upper Midwest and also in the southeast. The upper Midwest is looking pretty good according to CDC maps, and resource dependent we hope to be able to do another really proactive kind of surge of ambassadors. In areas of the nation that are experiencing the other kind of surge, the negative kind of delta variant surge so, but this is the spread across the country.

We, next slide, we, we have particular geographic cohorts, there's one Atlanta, there's one in Charlotte, there's one here in Chicago. We wanted to show you some of the partners we're working with the Chicago thank you to John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, thank you to Bob at the Chicago Community Trust, Thank you to the dare and the Joyce Foundation, number of different funders who are on this call who have funded this work but this is the network of faith-based congregations and nonprofits that we're working with in Chicago, and, and, and universities and seminaries. And if you look at the next slide, this is what the geographic spread of this is and it's a powerful network right so nationally it's a powerful network and we do a good job at IFYC of creating these kind of geographic Cohorts also so these folks talk to each other, they with each other, it's amazing to see examples. I hear stories of synagogues and churches running clinics together and, and Muslims, Christians and Jews showing up to get vaccinated together. It's powerful and beautiful interfaith cooperation work.

Next slide.

So, wanted to just give you a couple of examples of success. These are, you know, our evaluation team led by Dr Shauna Morin at IFYC is terrific. And part of what they're doing is, they're calling people and they're saying what's working? Right. So, Reverend Alexis Kassim in Northern Virginia, who, as of three months ago was an IFYC alum and Parker and that was IFYC staff. She's done such a great job with this.

Her congregations, Little River United Church of Christ and My Virgin Olive Baptist Church has hosted vaccine clinics that are particularly culturally sensitive. There you see one, you know one small victory. But part of what they've taken really, really seriously is childcare and transportation and as Robbie said, this is the kind of stuff that churches do all the time, right. And they do it really well, they address immediate needs in a way that's trusting and feels familiar and good. And you know, God love the good people at Uber. But my wild guess is that a network of church, synagogue, mosque, gurdwara, or temple vans going door to door is actually what it takes to make people feel comfortable going to a vaccination clinic, rather than hitting an app on an iPhone and there's my wild guesses there's a reasonable chance that

if you're not vaccinated, there's a reasonable chance you don't have an Uber app on your phone and you're much more likely to say, I'll get to the church van and take the casserole and have the pastor say a prayer and as I'm getting a shot that I'm accepting but I'm still a little uncomfortable with. Right. And that's what Alexis is doing in Northern Virginia.

 Next slide.

 So these are our good friends at Dominican University and the Provost my friend Jeff Carlson and some of the students are on this webinar, they've done, just a great job partnering with the Quinn center of St. Eulalia, I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly, and part of the genius of this is that it's a social services center that does food distribution, and they know that people show up there to get something that they really need, and they've used that as a site to engage folks about the vaccine. Right, so just the kind of thing that you do, if you are integrated into a community and you kind of understand where the community shows up and feels comfortable, you go to a place where, where they are at and you speak to them in a language that they understand, and that might mean Spanish, and it might mean reference to Catholic saints and it might mean, you know, reference to the Quran if you're Muslim etc. etc. But you're a trusted messenger at a trusted institution, engaging people helping people feel comfortable in familiar spaces.

So next slide. So, you know, here's our kind of three simple strategies to accomplish what where we think we're at this point which is encouraging the uncomfortable and vaccinating the persuaded. Make it familiar, right, do it in houses of worship, at block parties, at community centers, at schools, my friend, Reverend Dr. Susan Henderson is on this on this webinar right now. She leads our efforts in Charlotte, and she and her team had this brilliant idea of hosting a vaccine clinic at a soccer game, where it was largely Hispanic Latinx participants, and they had a doubly brilliant idea of raffling off season tickets to the new Major League Soccer team in the Charlotte area. And, Suzanne said we've vaccinated somebody every three and a half minutes, right, so that's somebody who understands a community, and understands what it means that means to show up in a familiar space, make space, and to engage people where they're at. It's about helping people feel comfortable. It's about making it easy, solve the solvable problems, transportation is a solvable problem right, childcare is a solvable problem, meals are a solvable problem, and we should trust the institution that like, literally invented the casserole. Right, like the people who do this every Sunday and every Wednesday, they can do this when it comes to vaccine clinics, they've done it for the last six months, and we should empower and resource and thank them for doing it for however much longer this crisis lasts and make it comfortable for folks right, just make it comfortable for folks. So the beauty of this is it's a solvable problem, right, if we're talking about 15% of the nation that's refusing, there's a group of those folks that are really loud that kind of make that whole group feel bigger than it probably actually is. But if we're getting to 85%, who are accepting certain percentage of those are uncomfortable, you know they're a little nervous. There are some barriers.

We can solve that. Next slide.

 So, this is my second to last slide. So, so this comes from WPZ of Chicago, he just, there are areas of Chicago I'm right now at the IFYC office at the Chicago Board of Trade right in the heart of downtown Chicago. Okay, the areas that are over 75% vaccinated are 30-minute drive from me right now.

Right. And the areas that are under 20% vaccinated are also a 30-minute drive for me. Right. It is impossible that 87% of Dixmoor are vaccine refusers. That is just not the case. There are lots and lots and lots of those people who are a little uncomfortable, who have structural barriers. Work, transportation, childcare, but when I look at Dixmoor for heights Riverdale I think to myself, with a targeted effort of culturally sensitive, perhaps faith-oriented ambassadors, we can look at that, three months and it can be fifty, sixty, seventy percent, right. Those are solvable problems right there, right, so forgive the football metaphor, but I look at that and think to myself, I don't see, I don't think, I don't think that's terrible, I think to myself, written that we're at the red zone. And we can do the work to get this ball in the in zone. Final slide.

So, listen. This is a spreadable model. Right. I mean, you know, we at PRRI and IFYC we'd love to have 500 colleges in our fall mobilization, we'd love to have 1000 congregations. That's great. But really, I think the power of an ambassador model is, frankly, any county public health could launch one, any state board of public health could launch one, right, it is, it's not rocket science.

It takes work, but it's a totally doable thing. And part of what we have done over the past six months, is create a model for how this is done. We would love to work with various responsible entities across the country, whether their universities or hospital systems or state boards of public health, to help them launch an ambassador program that focuses on their version of Dixmoor and Harvey to double, triple, quadruple the vaccination rates there, we can help them with the training, we can help them to understand this data. There are solvable problems here and then we should solve them. That's it.

John: Eboo you're so good. They're solvable problems and we should solve them and who knew it just was going to come down to casseroles. But I think this data really, really helps to understand the context of this important problem and you know my principal reaction to all of what you have said and the data you've been presented is, the data are there and the practices are there, that we really can put these two together and figure out ways to make a really big difference in the number of people's lives. But I think we all want to hear what the real pros have to say about it not, not my amateur reaction, but it is lucky that we have Dr Tanya Sorrell here to give her reaction to these data. Doctor Sorrell.

Dr. Sorrell: Thanks John, and it's an honor to be here today with such a distinguished panel to talk with and to discuss, not the work that not only Interfaith Youth Core, MacArthur and PRRI has done to really show that science and the faith community can walk hand in hand, especially as Eboo says when we meet people where they're at, with honesty, education and compassion. Truly with Covid-19, our people perish from lack of knowledge. And so the talks we gave really focused on addressing the common concerns that many, when they're experiencing something new, tend to have, and as well as the misunderstandings caused by the disinformation that that that we've seen and that Natalie mentioned, specifically hesitancy concern, and once again that need for knowledge, a discussion of the history of the development of vaccine was provided with the foundation of it being almost 20 years in the making after SARS, the first SARS or coronavirus in 2003, not just one year, which is the common opinion.

And for truth and understanding, we really have to acknowledge the issues of the past, concerning transparency and understanding the role of the government, distrust in medicine, particularly for Black Americans, Indigenous and other people of color who were, and still receive unequal treatment, and that the explanation that with the COVID-19 vaccine, things were really done with more equity attempting to correct some of the health inequity, injustices in the past, recognizing Tuskegee, and the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks, but realizing that those cells have led to the DNA knowledge that we had to be able to understand the DNA of the coronavirus. So truly, as they say in a t-shirt, “A Black Girl Has Saved the World” because the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks pave the way for the DNA findings that allowed us to develop this vaccine. Then, recognizing that what we see now in research and restoring justice to those who are oppressed fits not only with science, medicine, and faith. So from  Kizzmekia Corbett, a black American and an NIH scientists that lead that DNA review for the COVID-19, for the coronavirus, and then Dr. Carrico, an immigrant female researcher, who developed MrNA technology over 10 years ago, which has also been used for cancer treatments for several years, and how that work culminated with many of the people who were normally on the fringe. Many of those who may feel hesitant feel like if they're not at the table, they could possibly be on the menu. So truly Black, immigrant and female researchers were part of this development.

And so at this time when we look at health equity from a faith-based perspective, that's truly justice, that's truly those rivers of flowing justice, taking care of the oppressed, taking care of the poor and preventing death, and all of that was part of the decision-making process and the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, we discussed the vaccine is real, it's no respecter of persons, but those that are affected show the same inequities that we see in our marginalized groups, essential workers, minoritized groups and rural groups with lack of access to healthcare. So, vaccine acceptance is one of the first steps in health equity and moving towards justice, and then helping those participate and look through that fog of disinformation that Natalie mentioned to find truth to recognize that loving others as they love themselves, their families, and communities were part of the discussion that we had in these talks, and it was so helpful in looking at working through those myths to find the right path, so that people were able to choose vaccine acceptance, so that they and their loved ones could live during this pandemic. The overall goal and overarching goal from that is truly part of the work that we did in this project and I’m so glad to see some of the changes that we made incrementally, step by step, to help broaden the conversation and help people move past hesitancy toward vaccine acceptance.

John: Wonderful doctor, well thank you for your insights and hopefully you will chime in throughout the conversation and performance based on your, your incredible background and findings.

 I would just to ask a couple of questions here of the group and note that the Q and A is open for others to put their questions in and certainly even panelists, you can put questions in for one another, but maybe I just start with picking up on the word incremental that Dr Sorrell left us with to note that I think when looking at these data, that even relatively small incremental changes can be big wins in terms of the number of people's lives saved at this point. Eboo put us you know in football metaphor, we're in the red zone. And we're in the red zone, it's not necessarily an obviously in some communities in Chicago based on what he showed us we still have this big chunk of population to vaccinate, but in many places it is incremental. But from your areas of expertise, whether it's statistical analysis, behavioral medicine, running national programs, but what are the most important concrete next steps you'd like to see members of our audience taking? and noting that in the Q and A people are raising their hands to be part of your Ambassador programs obviously there are, there's a lot of willingness here in this group so speaking to the, maybe the choir, which still needs its practice. I'd love to hear, hear what you might preach, and I might share ideas for specific things that that audience members might do. Please feel free for each, each and each one of you if you like or only one, as you see fit. So, the question.

 Robbie?

Robbie: Sure, I'll jump, jump in. First, before I say anything else, Dr Sorrel, you know, I knew you were, you know, a respected medical professional and leader, I did not know that you're a poet and a preacher. So, I felt like we just got a seminar and a sermon, all in one. So, yeah, quoting Hosea, Henrietta Lacks. It's a nice weaving in there so thank you for that wisdom. There you know I think it is right that the good news. I was happy I miss all the bad news we're getting to see, for example, just that hesitancy has been cut in half since March right, just kind of holding on to that one little thing. So the refusal numbers haven't moved but the hesitancy numbers have been cut in half, and that is due to the work that people on this call have been doing down in the trenches on streets, in churches and synagogues and mosques and clinics and hospitals, all that hard work is paying off right so I think that's one thing. I'm not sure I would have thought had not seen the data, I would not have expected that it had been fully cut in half, but that's between March and June, right, that's a fairly short amount of time, particularly for survey data to shift that much when you're talking about people's behavior. I mean, that's a big shift in a short amount of time. So, while I think we're all rightly focused and worried about not getting to herd immunity and not getting there everywhere, equally.

 That's really important. It's, I think, not losing sight of that what we're doing is working, and the data suggests that doing more of it will continue to work right we haven't exhausted. These things, it's a question really of scale and not a matter of that thing kind of different things to do the things that we're doing are actually working. And just need to continue to kind of be scaled up.

John: Would anyone else like to take this one before we push along.

Eboo: Yeah, let me, let me just so, I think what we should do is prepare for this to last for 15 more months, and basically run our cycles that way. And so, what does it look like, and so you think to yourself, what does it feel like to be a nurse in a hospital 12 months from now, let's make sure that that terrific individual doesn't get burned out. Right. In other words, we're not just thinking about the, the, the surge, next week we're, we have a 12 to 15-month game plan. and I think funders should think that way. I think government should think that way, I think universities should think that way. And I think part of them, what that will look like is, is, let's actually plan for multiple cycles of research and ambassadors, research and ambassadors research and ambassadors, if that happens to be the tools that we have. Right. If I was the Ad Council, I would, I would articulate a complimentary strategy, none of this, none of what I'm suggesting negates other strategies, there's probably 10 strategies that need to work in tandem here, but this is not a one-time mobilization of ambassadors, it's not a one time, research project in June.

 It's probably four more cycles of this and we should just, you know, we should we should put the arrows in our quiver for that right so I mean, forgive the sports analogy, but was a lot of sports teams, you know, that they get to the fourth quarter and they put for all right like we prepare for this right and they're telling the other team. We prepared for the fourth quarter, we, we came to play all 60 minutes or 48 minutes. I think that's how we have to approach this is not a one-way thing, it's not a sprint. We need to prepare for what this is going to feel like next May.

And by the way, if we stamp it out before next May, we did it precisely because we prepared for it to last until that right, we aggressively engagement over a marathon, kind of like the title time.

John:  Very helpfully Eboo, I think we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone working on this topic, no matter what their role but certainly those who are directly health care providers that who continue to face the danger day to day and as we all know, even if you've been doubly vaccinated you, you may still be at risk of getting the virus, particularly with the Delta variant and so forth so just sending our thanks to all those who are in the thick of the marathon and, and I think you're right to prepare for the longer run. And we've got three good questions already in the Q and A so let me just ask one more myself and then we'll flip over to the audience questions. But if you were to choose one finding from the study that could be a you know a headline in national news or on reaching the largest number of possible people, what would you think would be most important for decision makers in the mainstream media to know and to and to project out based on these data? Natalie, do you want to take it since the other two have spoken then we'll go to Dr. Sorrell before the other questions.

Natalie: Sure. So, you know, I think the powerful thing about the this data is that it shows both the issue, and the possible resolutions, you know, most of what you see out there gives you a good sense of the landscape, and you know of note our data, and our landscape aligns with most of those so you, you can be pretty sure we're all you know getting the same basic story which is good for surveys overall. But the push forward here is what do we do about it. And also, not just focusing on hesitancy but the barriers, and if you are a little bit concerned about the vaccine but maybe you'd go get it. And then you have one or more of these logistical barriers. Well, there goes any willingness you might have had. So that there might be plenty of people who are hesitant and just kind of on the, on the edge that have these logistical barriers so the more that we can highlight kind of the interaction of all these various pieces, I think, is, is the big plus to the conversation that I would hope people would take away.

John: Very important subtle point that you wouldn't necessarily get just from the data itself. Doctor Sorrell if you were on Fox news or you're on CNN reaching a very large number of people what would you, what would you want them to take away.

Dr. Sorrell: Basically, the vaccine works, the vaccines work. What we're seeing now for people that are being exposed to the Delta variant, are the unvaccinated are those who are suffering. And that doesn't have to be. So, and part of the education and lack of knowledge is recognizing that no vaccine is 100%. But the vaccine works in preventing the long-term implications of Covid, the likelihood of hospitalization, ICU, needs ventilator be being on a ventilator, and death. So, the vaccine works to keep you alive. That's the most important point and then continuing with the follow up as Natalie said, if people hear that the vaccine works. And then they have a way to get to it. Then from that larger level or the mainstream media level, and the actual boots on the ground. Hey, the vaccine works, and we can get you to it. We can have time or arrange, and this is something that the administration may also consider for many people who have difficulties getting off work or having time off work for the vaccine. The virus isn't only working from nine to five.

So, the vaccine needs to work 24 seven too. the social determinants of health were part of the reasons and part of the inequities that left those minority communities, the underserved, essential workers, and those rural residents without access. That's what left them vulnerable in the first place. So, addressing those social determinants of health that prevent that accessibility.

If someone has to get in a car, and they don't have a car and drive an hour. That's not going to happen in a nine to five day. So being able to flex with the system to be able to really get the vaccine that works to the public that needs it.

John: If I were a book or a producer for one of these big TV shows, I'd have you on an instant to say that that, that sounds just right. If you wouldn't mind just keeping your mic open for a second. You could help with this first question I think from Casey Kelly, which is: does the Delta variant impact the conversation about vaccines and if so how does that does that change your message or your thinking about these data what we're learning about delta, and then after Dr Sorrell if anyone else wants to take that we’ll turn it to

Dr. Sorrell: what we are finding is that many people have gotten the message that the Delta variant is much worse, per se, than the original variant. So that may make some move towards a potential vaccine acceptance. And then, understanding how is going to be important to and discussing and this is part of the education process that are that are people need as well to. If the original variant that went through last summer, only in fact affected, or impacted two or three people, but now the Delta might impact six, maybe more. That's how we can say, it's easier to catch. And then, if you do catch it, it makes 1000 times more virus in your throat and lungs than the original variant, and think about that, you think about 1000 little bugs in you, 1000 little things in you growing and breathing.

You don't want that. And then much worse, that of a magnitude times worse than the original variant, and really bringing the knowledge of science to the level of the public, so that they can make a better and more informed decision, and that that's an initial start to say not only is it, is it easier to catch, it's more likely to cause more problems in even those who are vaccinated. It might not infect them, but it's still growing inside them can be part of the and can be transmitted. So, understanding why a mask is helpful, and that you're not only loving yourself, but you're loving others around you by wearing a mask as well too.

John: It couldn't be clearer.

Well said, Eboo, Robbie, Natalie anything on this topic you'd like to add before we go to another audience question? seeing some shaking and of heads and okay well let me, let me turn this. This next one, we’ll start with Eboo. Michael McGarry asks based on the data you have analyzed, how many Americans percentage of population are raw numbers, would you hope to vaccinate as a result of this approach.

Eboo: Uh, I'm going to Robbie and Natalie will be able to do the math in their head on this much quicker than me. I'm the guy who takes five minutes to calculate a 20% tip at a restaurant. I will say, I, I really want people to focus on that slide where Northbrook is 80% vaccinated, good for them. Right. And Dixmoor is 12% vaccinated. There are 10,000 Dixmoors in this country. And what I mean by that and that's obviously an illustrated metaphorical number right, what I mean by that is, there are places in which there are a lot, a lot of people who, who, if it was comfortable and easy, right, if it was familiar and facilitated, would get a vaccine. A church van, a curry, or a casserole. Bring me a curry, bring somebody else a casserole right, a church or a mosque van, a curry, a casserole. A $50 grocery gift card, a fun place to play for kids, a smiling, a nurse who says, I'm going to sing you a song as a needle goes in, like, there's a lot of people waiting to get back to who would get vaccinated. And that is not going to be an air strategy, that's going to be a ground strategy. You know, there's beautiful thing about America and that's Americans, right, there are there are, if there are 10,000 Dixmoors, there are 10 million Americans who could drive the church van, could look after kids, could make a mean curry, or a casserole right. And I think, you know, that's why the kind of wonderful animal called American civil society, in its universities, faith based, nonprofit, foundation, congregational

 Manifestation. How do we do the faith in the vaccine ambassadors times 100. Its flavors across the country. This isn't about 1000 campuses in in the IFYC PRRI program right. This is about 1000 communities, launching their own version of that totally doable thing.

John: Thanks, Eboo, and he's called upon I think Robbie and Natalie here to crunch the numbers, I don't know if you've gotten your pencils out and been able to do so but Robbie over to you

Robbie: I’ll sharpen it up. Yeah, so, yeah, thanks for pitching me the hard one Eboo, well here's one way to think about it. You know, what's the potential for this, so we kind of walk through them, take like white evangelicals as an example, their religious group that really is at the top of that list of being the most hesitant, and refuse or lagging behind. What do we know about them, they're also very prominent in across the southeast right where we see these hot spots from Arkansas to Florida to Texas. So, they make up just a little bit under 15% population as a whole and make about a quarter or more of the population. that's a big chunk, and nearly half of that group is hesitant, or refusal so if you're kind of looking at that you're talking about, you know, 12, 13% of the population of those states who are white evangelicals who are hesitant and refuse, right and that we say that, I mean, and that what they tell us is, you know, pretty interesting that about a third of them, tell us that these are these are just the faith-based approaches by themselves, would make them more likely to get to get so that's, you know, 45% of the population that we can move just with this one strategy right now in the most resistant places in the country and when we're at a stage where we're at today, that kind of incremental

 movement is really important right. That kind of 5, 6, 7 percent shift can make a real difference in a community especially these that have been plateaued out you know they, they're made changes early and then they've been very incremental, but closing that gap between the sort of foot soldiers we have on the ground right now, and being able to reach that bigger potential which is a quite a number of people that can make it that just this one strategy can make a difference in. I think it's where I'd focus is, we've got a very big potential and closing the gap between the boots on the ground we have now and the number we need to reach that I think is the game between now and the next few months.

John: Truly eye opening in that respect. Thank you. Another you open your mic, as they might want to add to the, to the data discussion,

Natalie: just a very quick back of the envelope calculation, and with the faith-based approaches we had at 26% of our hesitants and 12% of our refusers say that one or more of these faith-based approaches might make them more willing to get the vaccine, if that worked. That would equate to about five and a half percent of the population, which is about 11 million people. So, you know you look at the percentages and it might look kind of low. This is among American adults, you know, even 1% equates to about 2 million people, five and a half percent is more than 10 million people so you know there, there's kind of a rough sketch of, kind of, you know, 10 million lives is lot.

John: Absolutely Natalie thank you for very, very specifically I think it's like answering the question from Michael and for the broader answers to from Robbie and Eboo fantastic shopping for one second.

Eboo: Can I just jump in for one second. So, there are a number of people who work in philanthropy, on, on the participant list I'm not going to say what you do in your day job John. How about, there's another work in philanthropy so I, I, so I this lift that pure right if I see a dot, starting in January. Up until now, I would say we've probably spent a third of our time fundraising and the fundraising. Thanks be to God has been successful.  It's been over $5 million of which four and a half million has gone to the ambassadors and to surveys out the door to support ambassadors and faculty members and universities and to do the actual surveys. If we had channeled that time, those hundreds of hundreds of hours into finding more universities and more ambassadors, we could have probably doubled the size of the program. Right. And so, what this is also a solvable problem which is what does it look like for there to be kind of aggregate funding. So, again, a huge thank you to the, to the supporters on this we probably have 20 separate grants, and that is actually not a, not an overstatement right, we probably have 20 separate grants that are supporting this. If there were one or two grants in the same amount.

 That time goes into, into more ambassadors right so  it's an interesting opportunity for all of us and I see all of this is opportunity, I'm like, you know, I see someone is like the glass is half empty and someone’s like the glass is half full, I'm like I see a dish of ice cream, I'm like the eternal optimist right. This is a solvable problem, but there needs to be multiple levels of solution.

 

John: Eboo’s idea here that is, funders write bigger checks with lower, lower barriers to entry and do it more quickly, but Deandre Young I think you're asked you a question in the chat, Eboo does that include state and federal dollars to 5 million raised? I believe that's just straight philanthropy.

Eboo: Philanthropy yeah

John: so you know I think, I think one of the things that's obviously screaming out here is there are very, very large dollars that are, you know, coming from the federal system and sometimes flowing through States and elsewhere and is it possible for some of those, those funds to intersect here, may be a little bit complicated with church and state I suppose as concerns where we don't have that as private philanthropy,  but is there a possibility just to take this this comment seriously to leverage or connect to any public dollars for a strategy like this.

Eboo: So, I think the answer that is so we're very we're thrilled that that senior folks at the CDC foundation and participated in this including the President up and thank you so much for that. I think that government adjacent entities like the CDC Foundation, are the best kind of vehicles for supporting this right, in part, it, you, you know, the kind of the church bit differently, and the kind of the paperwork is less onerous, but so we looked at a number of federal grants.

We did not think that this fit squarely in those. By the way, I think the Biden administration, you know, there's not that many countries I'd rather be in that the United States of America when it came to vaccination right, I'd love to pick my own region in that country, you know, but we have done a pretty good job at a macro level the Biden administration has done great, and there's more to be done and I think that, again, CDC foundation type entities, perhaps working with similar state city and county vehicles, and I think philanthropy, you know, people would pick people pick up the phone calls of foundation presidents and every level. Right. I think that there might be some advocacy for philanthropic leaders to do here, curious about what other people think of course.

John: Thank you. Let's get jumped to a question that comes out of your reference to geography as in choosing the part of the country you could be in Fritz asked a question about the lack of ambassadors in say the Mountain West Western plans in Washington State on that map that you that you showed I don't know if not Natalie or Robbie you want to talk about any geographical differences here or ego in terms of the average approach that as that might reflect the way that that map.

Robbie: looks like that's back to you Eboo

Eboo: I've been talking a lot here, but this is probably I'm probably the most relevant person here for this. So, so part of this is when we did the first wave of ambassadors, the whole country was suffering from Covid right, this is this is in March and so we went to where our network was strongest and so we have terrific leaders here in Chicago like, Jeff Carlson, Alexis Kassim in Virginia, Suzanne Henderson in Charlotte, on and on and on right, now when we do this in the fall mobilization, we will go to our campus networks in Missouri in Idaho and Florida and Texas, and even if we only have strong relationships with say five campuses in Texas, or three campuses in in Idaho, those campuses will know other campuses. Their related congregations will know other congregations, so part of what.

And this is just, it's how the virus has mutated right so to speak geographically. We will be much more geographically specific in further ways.

John: Thank you I'm going to direct this one to Dr. Sorrell coming from Eileen. Do we have ways to channel, Dr. Francis Collins of NH into these communities’ resistance who see themselves as conservative or evangelical Christians, given that he has religious convictions and language to drive the message home as well as the scientific credentials, do you see possibility there for Dr. Collins or others with that with that mix.

Dr. Sorrell: I think it'll be important for providers at all levels, from the macro net level nationally like Dr. Collins, as well as local and state level providers. Unfortunately, some of the original providers of scientific information became part of the negative narrative of disinformation during this course. And so sometimes when they're on camera that's an immediate turn the channel. And so, looking at people from all levels, nationally, but particularly locally. It's the local outreach and as he mentioned the people at the ground level, and even saying go to talk to your provider, talk to your healthcare provider, someone that you trust. And then recognizing that with the narrative that Natalie mentioned of dis information. It's going to be important for the message to be able to get through that fog of disinformation to talk with someone you trust. Facebook may have information or memes, but all levels aren't created equally.

So talk to someone that you that you trust that has who has medical knowledge or experience in, and that you feel that you're comfortable to be able to have that discussion with your local leaders and your religious leaders are part of that conversation as well. And hopefully as we continue to have additional outreach that will be part of the discussion too.

John: Dr. Sorrell Thank you. Others want to pick up on this question at all or should I keep going with questions.

Natalie: And when we talk about these faith based approaches you know, Robbie put up a list of things that we did ask people about some of the most impactful approaches of that set of things were the ones where a religious congregation you trust or a religious community you trust holds a forum, they bring in information. You know the. Those were particularly appealing among that set of items so religious communities engaging with the Dr. Collins and the doctor Sorrells and, you know, of the world is a has the potential to be very powerful

Dr. Sorrell: and Natalie I think it also works to counter the narrative that science and spirituality don't walk together, God created the heavens and the earth and certainly he knows about physics. If he created all the plants that are that are here at everything is good, then the, then the plants that we've to derive medications from are also part of that blessing. If Luke was a physician, as a disciple of Christ, then certainly a physician, and as someone who knows science and can be able to minister in that sense both medically and spiritually as part of that discussion

John: Dr. Sorrell I really think you are the secret weapon here to this whole this whole thing combining science and faith I think it's right there in front of us. Let me flip to a question from Lawrence Whitney who asked to go one step further in terms of resistance but focusing on the actively discouraging group so does the data provide a window on those who might be vaccine hostile? And have you found any strategies that are effective in reaching vaccine hostile people who are trying to actively encourage other people not to get vaccinated?

Robbie: I'll bet we don't have any unless Natalie can figure out an angle that I'm not thinking about, we don't have any data specifically on people who are like, so hostile that they're discouraging others. It is, I think, notable to me that we still have again about one in 10 of even the folks who are in that refuser category say that they would be responsive to a faith-based approach. Again, if, if they're in that refuse or category saying I will not get the vaccine and yet still tell us. Well, I might be, I might be a little more open with faith-based approach I think that's some hint and I'll say one thing that's maybe bigger than that that part of, I mean, we haven't talked about it a lot I had a couple, we had a couple slides on the on the partisanship here but the big elephant the room, particularly with white evangelical community is this partisanship right. This has just become a partisan football and Dr Sorrell mentioned, like Dr. Fauci and others who were early on getting kind of wrapped up in the partisan scrum that we had, you know, when we were first kind of talking about vaccines. So part we're still unraveling ourselves from that and one of the reasons why I think this is somewhat powerful is that if you go straight at people with a kind of persuasive message, you know, that could sound political whatever, it's just going to bounce right off and I, but I think one of the things that if you can get a conversation happening in the synagogue or mosque a church.

 Those are places that talk about everything right I mean it's there were inclusive conversation spaces and particularly with a strategy. One of the problems that one thing we've heard from pastors right is that they don't want to put themselves in the political crosshairs, right so they've been timid about kind of holding a clinic or something like that but one of the things that we're finding is that if you have a 20 something year old or 20 year old who's been raised in that church, who's off to college, you get recruited as part of the faith in the vaccine ambassadors and they go back to the church and say, Hey, I'm doing this this summer. I'd like to set up a forum, and the pastor's facilitating something that they're young person is doing that actually gives the pastor some wiggle room of saying, I'm not forcing this on the church. This is like, one of our youth that we all know and we're supporting what she's doing this summer. It's a kind of side door that I think makes it a little bit safer to have the conversations and at this point, we're really looking for ways to finesse the problem right it taking it head on I think sometimes is it the best, but finding ways to kind of around to go around to finesse it. And I think that's, I think the beauty of what a lot of this does, and the author of the way you do that is because you're, tapping organic relationships embedded institutions that are already in communities and trusted and it just makes it easier flow of things.

Dr. Sorrell: That's a really good point Robert and as well. One of the important ways that we in the medical field use those conversations to just open the door is called motivational interviewing,  first you recognize it no you don't go up against someone, you say, you know, I understand that you that you have some questions and concerns. Is it all right if we, if we have, if I tell you a little bit about it or you tell me about what some of your concerns are, ask whether you can have that conversation, then it's not condescending, you're not putting someone down, you're really as they say meeting them where they're at, you know, tell me what are some of your concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

If they're very plain and simple such as well this was, this was only developed in a year, you know, it may have an influence with 5g, then you can provide some critical knowledge to try to address some of those concerns in discussing what we know it actually they've been working on the, the foundation for this for many years, and then providing that information, tell me how do you feel now that you've heard this, this tell me how that tell me what you think about that now that we've had this conversation, you may not make a move or a change then but you as, as we said, inch by inch may be able to incrementally make that progress and that that's where, little by little, continuing to have that grassroots level connection will be helpful.

John: Dr. Sorrell if you wouldn't mind, keeping the mic. We now have exhausted I think the audience questions for the moment so we'll just do a round here at the end of anything that you wish to leave the audience with or something you wish you'd had a chance to be able to address we'll start with you, Dr Sorrell and we’ll come back around and end with Eboo.

Well sure, and thanks again. You know we we've been talking a lot about not only the Covid-19, the vaccine and as well we mentioned a lot of the social determinants of health, that, that actually wrapped around this and actually made this pandemic. Not only a pandemic of the virus, but also the social ills, the political ills and a lot of the structural and systemic ills that we see in our society, as we try to look at moving forward, we may want to ask ourselves, do we want to quote unquote, return to normal. You know, if we look at this from a religious context, if this was God kind of shaking the world to get our attention, we might want to take a look around to evaluate. Is it okay for us to see people living in penthouses when right outside there's someone there with a sign and they're not able to eat?

 Is it okay that just because of the color of someone's skin, they may have difficulties obtaining housing obtaining jobs, obtaining that goal of working toward the American dream? As we look at the flag and recognize that all of us are working towards that more perfect union. That's a work in progress. It's not an actuality. This may be a time that we take a look and see what are we doing and how do we want our new normal to look? You know my minister said that the COVID lockdown was like being in the whale as Jonah. So, do we want to go back to our old ways when we get spit up on the beach? Or do we really want to start to address some of the issues really that God calls us in faith to address, working with the poor, helping the oppressed, fighting for the oppressed and developing, how we work to have our world in better order. And then that way we're not only addressing a lot of the social ills and social determinants of health that made the plight of COVID- 19 vaccine of virus so problematic. But we're also moving forward and what we can see for our future as well. And then we may truly have learned what it is to, as we say love others as we love ourselves.

John: Thank you, Rob, any last words from you?

Robbie: Oh, sure. I'm sad I have to follow that. I just want to say amen. But, you know, I would say, just kind of going back to the big picture, because I do feel like there's so much bad news coming at us right now, but to say, We are the things that have been all the hard work that has been done on the ground, Medical communities, churches, synagogues mosques community leaders, people who've been working on the ambassador's that have been on the ground knocking on doors talking to people.

It has made a difference, right, again the hesitancy cut in half between March and June. That's a big deal. and we have a significant number of people, particularly in communities have been lagging behind still telling us that this strategy would be effective and would help them. So, I think we've got the opportunity laid out right in front of us.

 The last thing I just want to kind of point to that we haven't talked about that I think goes along with what Dr. Sorrell was having saying is that we did find that we asked about different kinds of things ways you could talk about it. One thing that kind of stood out among the hesitant, and that was that, that if we statements that people said would make them more likely hearing the statement made them more likely to get vaccinated and they go pretty much together right in line with what Dr Sorrell was having the two were that by getting vaccinated, you'd be making a decision that protects human life.

 And by getting vaccinated you'd be helping to protect the most vulnerable members of our community in both cases, a majority of the vaccine hesitant said, kind of thinking about thinking about it that way would make them more likely to get vaccinated so I really do think it is.

 We've had some evangelical leaders who have stood up and said like this is about loving your neighbor. Right. In kind of flipping it from getting stuck in a kind of, I think, you know, to my mind, a distorted view of what human like individual freedom is to a kind of more open view of what being responsible and loving my neighbor is.

 John: Very Powerful, Thank you, Natalie How about your last your last thoughts.

Natalie: So, it occurred to me, as we've the conversation was progressing that we didn't really discuss kind of the impact of what happens with the non-religious part of American society, which is, you know, roughly a quarter of the country, and the religiously unaffiliated are higher on the acceptance. Our society is so deeply connected by religion that even 12% of religiously unaffiliated people say that these religious approaches could move them towards vaccination. So, and that's among both hesitant and refer refuse or unaffiliated. So that shows how deeply embedded in our culture and religion is even for those who don't necessarily need to have science and religion connected, although certainly there are many who do. And, you know, so this is kind of an across the board approach that you see in our society, you know, our hospitals are religiously affiliated many universities, colleges and universities are religiously affiliated.  So, while we talk a lot about specific religious groups. This is not only for the religious conversation, either so I just wanted to add that as we wrap up.

John: Just so powerful in in so many areas of philanthropy, this idea of targeted universalism is an important concept which is if you target a community, for instance you target, you know, an African American community and it doesn't mean you don't care about all the souls in that community, it means they are in fact are starting in a certain place and serving everyone and that's a little bit I think Natalie your point that some of these messages loving one's neighbor, you know though that may seem like it comes right out of a certain gospel or otherwise you know it is something that may resonate for all of us and on behalf of all of us so I think that's extremely, extremely powerful.

Two minutes left, Eboo Patel, bring us home if you would.

Eboo: thank you john Thank you Tanya. Thank you, Robby. Thank you, Natalie. Thank you, Becca and Katherine and Ian, and everybody who makes this work, our entire teams. A huge thank you to the philanthropists who supported this, the foundations, major thank you to the ambassadors of the faculty leads of the colleges in the congregations who are part of this.

One of the things I want to say to you is, is, you know, I can't imagine being a nurse or a doctor right now and just how challenging it must be. And frankly, just how, just the breath of fresh air, that you as an ambassador like showing up and doing your appropriate role alongside somebody who might have been yelled at or had been spat at or whatever, you know, here you are showing up and saying hey you know let's, you are a shot of enthusiasm and I just I can’t imagine that. In addition, all the other good things you do. You are super helpful to the people in our medical establishment who have been heroes and are, you know, probably pretty beleaguered right now.

John: Alright well I think that brings us to a close, thanks everybody for making time and really appreciate this panel. Maybe we can at least virtually give a round of applause for this, this great group and thanks to each of you for the work that you’re doing to bring about an equitable and inclusive recovery and hopefully these messages will continue to resonate as they have so, thank you everyone and have a nice day.

 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.