Philly Truce hosted Vax Facts, an event to help inform those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, on Saturday at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse in East Fairmount Park.
Initial plans to have a vaccine clinic, DJ, food, games and other activities, were curtailed by the rainy weather that canceled the event. However, it did not stop Mazzie Casher, co-creator and director at Philly Truce, from receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Philly Truce operates an app that provides mediation and intervention services for people in the city who may need assistance with potentially violent situations, especially involving gun violence.
“A big part of what we do at Philly Truce is about helping people understand that there are resources available, there is help available,” Casher said.
Saturday’s event was a way for Casher to set an example as someone who made his own decision on getting the vaccine.
“For me, that’s why I did it, to set an example of a free-thinking person of color,” he said.
Although Casher never contracted COVID-19, he felt it was his responsibility to get vaccinated, so he gained knowledge about the vaccine from a trusted source, Dr. Nina Ahmad, a molecular biologist that he partnered with through Philly Truce.
“As a person in a sort of a leadership position, and very specifically, on the premise that I found a trusted source, far more knowledgeable than myself, and that person gave me the information and the confidence, a lot of what we have to do at Philly Truce is lead by example,” Casher said.
Cornelius Pitts, a pharmacist and director of the COVID-19 vaccine response team at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, learned that some vaccine hesitancy is due to deep-seated fear and anger in the community through conversations he had with those wary of the vaccine.
“When we engage in that conversation, we’re actually sometimes able to get into the core of what their reasoning is and what they’ve heard, and how can we dispel some of that misinformation,” Pitts said.
Patricia Imms, a registered nurse at Miriam Medical Clinic, believes that education is extremely important for those concerned or thinking they are being forced into getting vaccinated.
“You have to make this decision in your time with your own sense that this was the right choice for you and your family,” Imms said. “We are really committed to that message.”
Imms aims to administer as many vaccinations as possible but acknowledges it is important for them to avoid forcing vaccines onto people.
“Vaccinations are obviously our biggest goal because we really believe in it,” Imms said. “But the ability to provide accurate information to talk to people, we meet them where they’re at, no matter what theory they have of why they shouldn’t get it.”