How to Show Love This Fourth of July? Get Vaccinated.
June 30, 2022
During a post-church family Zoom/telephone check-in one Sunday, a cousin seeking to convince some of our unvaccinated families to get vaccinated said, “Living in a half-vaccinated home is like having half the people in a car wearing a seatbelt driving down a dangerous interstate.”
“No one does that,” he said.
However, in a rebuttal that still strikes me for both its candor and repulsiveness, another family member replied, “People do that every day.”
Admittedly, it was easier to address threats posed by COVID-19 this time last summer. Despite disagreements in our politics, a unifying thread of experiences united Americans at a time when we could seldom agree on anything else: An “alien” virus seemingly appears out of nowhere with links to a factory in Wuhan, China, shuts down the global economy, kills millions around the world, and introduces new cultural practices like virtual schooling and work from home that were seemingly unfathomable just weeks prior.
Now, a year after President Biden declared victory over the coronavirus and the supply of vaccines are no longer scarce, the unforeseen Delta and later Omicron variants of COVID-19 have destroyed many individuals’ understandings of where we are in the life of the pandemic. Faced with the issues of compounding inflation, cultural practices around guns that normalize mass shootings, and school districts navigating the toxic debates around masking and critical race theory, lost in the milieu remains the need for Americans to get vaccinated.
It’s not enough to have received a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine regimen. It’s not enough for half the individuals in our households to get vaccinated while others remain unprotected. We need everyone vaccinated and everyone boosted.
I’m aware that a decision to receive any type of healthcare is a deeply personal choice that has implications that impact the whole family. I’m not a doctor nor an expert on COVID-19.
Who I am, though, is a person of faith, inspired by the first century Galilean prophet Jesus of Nazareth who dares to believe that one of the best ways I care for those I love is by protecting those with whom I interact … so I got vaccinated.
Who I am is a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church who believes liberation and freedom cannot be achieved while health disparities exist, and within my purview is the ability to take concrete actions that change life outcomes … so I got vaccinated.
I’m an American who believes in our national motto, “E pluribus unum” — out of many we are one … so I got vaccinated. I have been actively encouraging my friends, family, and community to take advantage of the benefits of vaccination.
I remind them of the loved ones who transitioned during the pandemic and whose funerals we had to hold outside. I invite them to remember the nightmare of virtual school with no internet because Clarendon County, South Carolina, where we reside, doesn’t have the infrastructure to support broadband. I encourage them to consider the consequences of not having health insurance and having to pay a doctor’s bill that includes being on a ventilator.
I remind them of the consequences of getting sick in their non-salaried job and the effect that would have on their rent. I invite them to think of the financial ramifications of dying and having to “past the hat” (a colloquial Black church expression used in the South to describe the process of fundraising for a funeral when an individual dies that does not have life insurance). I encourage them to remember their family members who caught COVID-19 and passed it to elderly immunocompromised loved ones who found it agonizing just to breathe, reminiscent of the trauma of witnessing children having asthma attacks at the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club while we were coming up.
We’re better than this, and, because we’re better than this, not only do I need them to get vaccinated but also to help us promote vaccination to their family members at one of the interfaith partner church vaccination clinics. Everyone will not show up to vaccinated. However, if we can vaccinate just 10 people per clinic two Saturdays out of every month over the course of a year, we can vaccinate approximately half the population of many rural hamlets within our county that have less than 400 people.
When others have argued we’re facing a herculean task, our response has been simply: anything that makes us stronger, healthier, and more united is worth it.
Vaccination against COVID-19 does just that. We become stronger as a country, healthier as a nation, and more united as Americans. This Fourth of July, will you get vaccinated?
American Civic Life
Faith Based Efforts Work in Vaccine Uptake: Now Let’s Make it Easy
American Civic Life
American Civic Life
Rev. Dominique Grate
Rev. Dominique Grate, an Interfaith America Sacred Journey Fellow, is the Senior Pastor of the Historic Trinity AME Church in Manning, South Carolina, where he works with faith-based partners and government agencies to promote COVID-19 vaccination programs throughout rural counties in South Carolina. A member of the inaugural class of Interfaith America Sacred Journey Fellows, Rev. Grate enjoys organizing humanitarian mission trips, fundraising for historically Black colleges/universities, and reading to the most adorable 3- and 4-year-olds at the Goodwill Presbyterian Head Start.
Visit the online gallery to see photos of the Rev. Grate’s vaccination clinics.