This week, the nation's top infectious disease experts -- including Dr. Anthony Fauci -- are teaming up with a Dallas church to help ease the distrust many people in the community have with the COVID-19 vaccine.
It's an effort to use the power of education and social media to tackle the misinformation and misunderstandings that could be impacting people's decisions on the vaccine.
“I think it’s imperative for the church not only to serve its parishioners but the broader community. To leverage whatever influence I could muster, to bring together a team of experts from different camps to have a discussion in the presence of our audience, our parishioners and our social media audience about something that is killing lives right now," Bishop Jakes told NBC 5. “420,000 people dead. We have to use every medium of communication we have so that people can make informed decisions."
The hour-long virtual discussion features the nation's top infectious disease official alongside other experts in the field, including Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a key scientist behind the Moderna vaccine and Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu of Yale School of Medicine.
Topics covered included the vaccine's side effects, how severe reactions are rare, how long the vaccine can last, what the vaccine is made of and how much research was truly done to develop it.
"The more people that get vaccinated in your community, the less chance the virus has to circulate," Fauci said in the exclusive panel with the Potter's House.
The Potter's House posted the conversation on its Youtube page this week and is pushing it through social media with the hope to reach at-risk communities, especially those of color.
Recent data from a Pew Research Center survey also shows about 42% of Black Americans said they would take the vaccine, compared to 63% of Hispanics and 61% of white adults. More data in Texas also shows that white Texans are being vaccinated at a significantly higher rate than Hispanic or Black Texans.
"My advice is to talk to your physician, someone who you trust and feel comfortable with. Get away from the famous people and talk to somebody who treats your body every day and follow the advice of your physician," Bishop Jakes said.
For life to return to some sort of normal, Dr. Fauci said in the panel that 70% to 85% of the country's total population will need to be vaccinated.
Bishop Jakes told NBC 5 for that to happen, everyone needs to consider doing their part.
"To make a distinction between an opinion and a fact. To be able to make some sort of distinction between factual information and information that is planted on social media to create controversy," he explained. "This is your body, this is your health, these are your children, these are your parents. And as a pastor who has had an exponential increase in burying Black people, we have to change the way we buy into legends in the face of a crisis."
Dr. Jill Waggoner, a family medicine doctor for Methodist Health System, asked key questions alongside Jakes during the panel.
“It’s not an attempt to convince anybody to get the COVID-19 vaccine but to give people good, sound information and science so that they can make the best decision for themselves," she told NBC 5 in an interiew.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
She said her big takeaway was an explanation of how the COVID-19 vaccine works and how it was developed. The vaccine is not made out of dead viruses but instead contains just a single protein that can't replicate but can give your body a snapshot of what the virus looks like to fight it.
“It is only one single protein from the spike proteins on the surface of the virus," explained Dr. Waggoner. "It is giving your body information so that it can make antibodies. So that if you are exposed to the coronavirus, you already have some antibodies ready to help fight off the illness.”
Waggoner also said the technology behind the vaccine has already been researched for a long time.
“Talking to Dr. Corbett, she was able to share with us that they have actually been working on the platform and working on the technology for the vaccine for many many years. So although we didn’t know about it, they had actually been working on it for a long time," she said.
Dr. Waggoner agreed that pandemic has also highlighted underlying issues within minority communities, which has been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus.
“And once we get this pandemic under control, we really have to continue the conversations about why it is that it affects these communities? I think it’s a tendency to blame the victims and say they’re not doing what they should do or they have underlying health issues -- when the realities that contributed to those underlying health conditions have not really been addressed," she said. “I think there’s room for many more conversations to have with America, if not about coronavirus but about the other things that we’re dealing with in terms of the health of these communities."
To follow more videos and conversations from T.D. Jakes, click here.
Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows where COVID-19 vaccines have been sent around the state. Click on a marker to find out information about each location. Use the "plus" and "minus" signs below to zoom in and out of the map.
From the Texas DSHS: Availability of COVID-19 vaccines lilsted on this map are based on shipping information and reporting to the DSHS directly by facilities. Please contact providers in advance to confirm vaccination location and hours, that they have vaccine on hand and that you are eligible for vaccination at that site. Not all providers are vaccinating the public or people in all priority groups. Vaccine is available at no charge, regardless of insurance status.