By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – People of color have been the hardest hit during the pandemic, but many distrust the vaccines. On Friday, some local church leaders rolled up their sleeves hoping to set an example.

The rush to get the COVID 19 vaccine is now being felt behind the pulpit.

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“This virus kills,” said Pastor Gerald Bell of Whittier Street Health Center.

On Friday, black pastors from several Boston churches received their first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Whittier Street Health Center. They were also there to educate and reassure the minority community the vaccines are safe. They hope others in their community will follow their lead.

“We are doing this because we want to encourage them to do the same thing,” Bell said. “I tell my parishioners, ‘Take the vaccine. Ask your primary care physician.’”

Many of these pastors are front line workers, spending hours visiting the sick and praying for folks in nursing homes.

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“We understand some people are hesitant to take the vaccine,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who acknowledged that the coronavirus has hit communities of color the hardest. “We don’t want communities of color to miss out on the vaccine because it’s the best tool we have to put the pandemic behind us and heal our city.”

Health officials say getting the vaccine is the only way out of this pandemic, which is why the city is aggressively trying to get the vaccine into diverse communities by partnering with non-profit organizations.

Diana Buckley came to Whittier for a COVID-19 test. She says she plans to get the vaccine when its available to her, but some of her friends were on the fence.

“I talked to some people who say they won’t get it, but listening to [Dr Anthony Fauci] on the news now, now they are saying ‘Yeah, I want to get it,’” said Buckley.

That’s the prayer that these pastors hope will be answered in the weeks and months ahead.

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“Put your trust in your faith above,” said Bell.

Paul Burton