Florida pastor encourages COVID-19 vaccines after six members die from virus in 10 days


FILE – In this Sunday, July 11, 2021 file photo, a doctor fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Kabul, Afghanistan. Top officials at the World Health Organization said Monday, July 12 there is not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunize their populations instead of being used by rich countries as boosters. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, file)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — A Jacksonville pastor is calling for his parishioners to get vaccinated after six members died from COVID-19 in ten days.

During an Impact Church worship broadcast on Sunday, Pastor George Davis announced the deaths and called it a “difficult week.”

“It has just absolutely ripped our hearts apart. The most recent one was actually a young lady on our worship team,” Davis said.

He told News4Jax that four of the members were under 35 and none were vaccinated. Davis also stated that at least 15 other parishioners are in the hospital.

“Yes, we are praying, but we’re not just going to pray. We’re going to pray and do something,” Davis also said on the Sunday broadcast.

His church held its first walk-up free vaccination clinic since March in response to the recent deaths. Local health partners from the University of Florida Health and Duvall County also were present to help answer any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We don’t want anyone to feel pressure to be vaccinated .. I just love so much that I want to be able to say that I did everything possible to make sure the people at Impact church are safe and that you’re able to be vaccinated if you so choose to,” Davis emphasized.

Florida has been especially hard hit by the recent COVID-19 surge. It makes up more than 20% of the nation’s new cases and hospitalizations, triple its share of the population. Many rural counties have vaccination rates below 40%, with the state at 49%. The state again set a record Saturday, reporting 23,903 new cases.

Davis noted that masks are required during service and emphasized that none of the COVID-19 cases have been traced directly to the church.

“It’s one thing to see a story on TV but we know these families personally and each of these families are hurting that their loved ones passed away. And our prayers that we can do what it takes to help other families stay safe,” Davis said.

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