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Buffalo-based reverend will be part of effort to dispel myths of COVID-19 vaccine

Reverend Diann Holt of Buffalo realizes there is a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. She pledges to inform people about the facts of the vaccine.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York State is one week away from when it expects to get its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA still has not approved Pfizer’s vaccine, but the agency indicated Tuesday that the vaccine is "highly effective."

If the FDA approves the vaccine, state officials have said they expect 170,000 doses early next week that would go to nursing homes and healthcare workers.

"I can see my community not just pushing back, but bringing everything to a screeching halt," said Reverend Diann Holt of Buffalo's AME Zion Church. 

She says she can feel it – the misinformation in the community about the COVID-19 vaccine is real.

"I want to see that cease and desist because people change the narrative when they’re sharing something," Holt said.

Holt sits on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force.

Polls such as one done by Pew Research recently showing that 42 percent of African Americans intend to take the vaccine, and Holt's concern is that not enough African Americans will get vaccinated. 

She says she’s not tapped into the roll out of the vaccine, but rather, educating the public and correcting myths, such as the vaccine has been rushed or doesn’t work.

"There’s too much misinformation floating in our community already and then our job will be to 'mythbust' will be able to provide the information that’s needed," Holt said.

Pending FDA approval, the state has said it expects to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, within the next week.

Because vaccination requires two doses, the state says it expects to get another 170,000 doses several weeks later for New Yorkers who already got their first dose.

Nursing home residents and health care workers are first on the list to get the vaccine.

The state still hasn’t revealed how many doses Western New York will get.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the county has found places where vaccine doses can be stored locally.

When mass vaccination operations are up and running months from now, Reverend Holt says simplicity will be key.

"We have to make things are convenient for our community we’re the ones who usually travel by bus we’re the ones who do not have our own personal transportation," she said.

The county also says it has also identified mass vaccination centers, but those are months away from being used.

It’s expected that Erie County will help in the delivery of vaccine doses to other counties in Western New York.