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Black Clergy At Odds Over Swine Flu Vaccine

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The leaders of some African American churches in the D.C. region are coming together to fight the H1N1 virus, but there's some disagreement when it comes to getting vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The leaders of some African American churches in the D.C. region are coming together to fight the H1N1 virus, but there's some disagreement when it comes to getting vaccinated.

By David Schultz

The leaders of some African American churches in the D.C. region are coming together to fight the H1N1 virus, but there's some disagreement when it comes to getting vaccinated.

Reverend Anthony Evans founded the National Black Church Initiative to promote health in African-American communities.

Right now the group is focused on swine flu, and Evans says the vaccination is crucial. But he says there's wide mistrust of the vaccine in the black community, in part because of the Tuskeegee experiments, when doctors conducted unethical medical studies on African Americans. Evans is trying to ease those fears.

"One of our jobs with the National Black Church Initiative is to dispel some of these myths," Evans says, "And to make sure that we act as advocates to work with government officials to make sure that never happens again in our community."

Lanier Twyman is the pastor at Saint Stephen Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Maryland.

He's part of the initiative, but he says he won't get vaccinated. He thinks it hasn't been tested enough.

"I'd like to get some additional information about the vaccine," Twyman says. "I'd like to see some proven methods, tried and true."

Twyman is focusing on other methods to prevent the spread of the swine flu, such as handwashing.

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