In an open letter to faith leaders across the state, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper expressed their gratitude for the state’s faith community’s support so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then the two asked for the religious leaders to reach out to North Carolinians who haven’t gotten vaccinated.

The letter, addressed to “Faith Leaders,” stated that, during the pandemic, “not only have you provided much-needed source of prayers and comfort to people in mourning in our state, you have performed countless acts of loving kindness as you cared for and sustained our communities.”

The letter went on to remind the leaders of the faith communities that there’s a lot more work to be done.

“We write today to ask for your help so that we can keep people well, save lives, and end this pandemic.”

It noted that hospitals across the state are strained right now, and medical providers in other states have even faced situations where care wasn’t readily available for people experiencing non-COVID-related life-threatening health crises.

Cooper and Cohen then listed some ways church’s and other religious institutions can help.  

Here are some of the suggested steps:

  • Directing congregations to “trustworthy sources” on vaccines, such as doctors, medical providers and the NCDHHS website
  • Posting and sharing vaccine information in highly visible areas in the house of worship.
  • Hosting or sponsoring vaccine events.
  • Sending a letter or email to congregants sharing resources that provide accurate information about vaccines – and encouraging people to avoid sharing misinformation on social media.
  • Talking to your congregation about “why our faith calls upon us to protect our health and those around us by getting vaccinated.”
  • Adding a message encouraging people to get vaccinated to your organization’s voicemail.

The letter suggests other ways faith leaders can help, such as by “becoming an ambassador” for the vaccine effort.

“Some people need to be assured that the vaccines are safe and effective,” it states. “Others need to be confident that they and their communities are not being treated unjustly. Share your vaccine story with your congregation.  Encourage your congregants to share their stories.”