Mercer to host vaccine town hall Saturday at Rosa Jackson Center

The university is helping fight misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – As the White House pushes to get more vaccine shots in arms, states like Georgia are falling behind the national average vaccination rate.

Across 24 Middle Georgia counties, the average rate vaccination rate is about 34%.

Several local health officials believe these lower numbers are due to misinformation. This is why Mercer University put together a group of local health experts and students, called Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors.

Dr. Jose Pino, a professor of foreign literature at Mercer, wants to inform the community about what getting vaccinated actually means.

“You know Mercer, one of our missions is to serve so this is perfect,” Dr. Pino said. “Great for our ambassadors, and besides that I want my students to reach out to their community.”

The Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors Program is a six-month-long project that began in July. The students have been able to vaccinate more than 200 people so far.

With only a few months left in the program, Komal Gandhi says they do not have a goal for how many more vaccines they want to give out. They just want everyone to have a shot at getting it.

“I think it’s more about reaching out to our community and giving out that information and give everyone their best shot at being their most healthy self during the pandemic,” Gandhi said.

The group is partnering with One Macon on Saturday, September 11 to offer a Family Fun Day and a town hall about vaccines to give the community a chance to ask questions and voice concerns regarding the shots.

“There are some people that are very strong in their beliefs that they do not want to get vaccinated, and while that’s okay we’ve been trained to not enforce the vaccine but just guide them to what is not best but what is the healthiest option.”

Panelists for the town hall will be Dr. Cheryl Gaddis, chair of the Department of Public Health at Mercer, Dr. Bonzo Reddick, professor and Chair of Community Medicine, and Dr. Jimmie Smith, Administrator of the Macon-Bibb County Health Department.

Each will answer questions or comments.

“I think just opening up that conversation is a good first step even if we end up parting and going different ways,” Dr. Smith said.

The Faith in the Vaccine group will be at the Rosa Jackson Center in Macon on Saturday. The group will hold a vaccine town hall starting at 11:30. The free vaccine clinic is from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Categories: Bibb County, Featured, Health, Local News