PHOENIX — Arizona faith leaders gathered today to share a strong message with their congregations and the public: the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and getting vaccinated is the best way to end this pandemic. Alongside Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Maria Cristina Fuentes, Director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith & Family (GOYFF), the following faith leaders highlighted the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix this morning.
- Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Lead Pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church and Chairperson for the African American Christian Clergy Coalition
- Larrie Fraley, Lead Pastor of Global Outreach at Christ’s Church of the Valley
- Eduardo Nevares, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix
- Dr. Gloria J. Smith, Reverend at Encanto Community United Church of Christ
- Jennifer Reddall, Sixth Episcopal Bishop of Arizona
- Gary Kinnaman, Former Senior Pastor of World of Grace
- John Linder, Rabbi at Temple Solel
- Al Beasley, Reverend at First Christian Church of Globe (Disciples of Christ)
- John Martinez, Reverend at New Beginnings Assembly of God
- Roc Arnett, Representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Dr. Benjamin Thomas, Sr., Reverend at the Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
Research suggests some groups are more hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and that targeted outreach to these groups is a key strategy to build confidence in vaccination efforts. Today’s event represents one step in Arizona’s work to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is widely administered throughout our state. During the event, representatives from local religious communities – currently in prioritized groups – received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Christ.
“Faith, and other community leaders, are critical and trusted voices in their communities and their partnership and support continues to have a significant impact as we work together to keep our communities safe and healthy,” said GOYFF Director Maria Cristina Fuentes. “We are grateful for faith leaders across the state who continue to raise awareness about the importance of everyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“The importance of religious leaders in speaking to the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines cannot be overstated,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “As their turns come in vaccination priority, I hope more and more leaders share their experiences and encourage others to help develop the herd immunity we need to return to gathering safely in all settings.”
“As people of faith, we know caring for our neighbor is essential to both our spiritual and physical well-being and we are grateful for the development of revolutionary vaccine treatments that provide vital safety measures for ourselves and our loved ones,” said Reverend Katie Sexton, Executive Director of the Arizona Faith Network. “As faith leaders representing a variety of spiritual traditions across Arizona, we unite for the common good and believe that this common good is achieved by each person getting vaccinated when it is their time to do so.”
More than 736,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far to 601,630 Arizonans, including 121,397 who have received both doses. To date, 131,792 Arizonans have been vaccinated at the state-run vaccination sites since the opening of State Farm Stadium on Jan. 11 and Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Feb. 1. In less than three weeks, State Farm Stadium has administered over 25% of the total vaccine given in Maricopa County, which includes sites that have had vaccine since Dec. 14. Over 95% of those vaccinated at the site are Maricopa County residents.
Groups prioritized to date include: frontline healthcare workers, emergency services workers, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities (in Phase 1A); and protective services workers; K-12, university, and community college educators; childcare workers; and adults 65 and older (prioritized Phase 1B). Each county’s current vaccine phase is listed on the ADHS website, which is updated daily.
Those in groups prioritized for vaccination can register for available appointments at State Farm Stadium and multiple other vaccination sites at podvaccine.azdhs.gov. Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found at azhealth.gov/findvaccine. Those without computer access or needing extra help registering can call 1-844-542-8201 to be connected with someone who can assist. Note: You can use the patient portal at podvaccine.azdhs.gov to make an appointment for a relative in a prioritized group, such as someone 65 and older. To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.