The Institute for Spirituality and Health Collaborates with Houses of Worship To Provide Vaccinations and Public Health Education

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The Institute for Spirituality and Health Collaborates with Houses of Worship
To Provide Vaccinations and Public Health Education
By Leah Adams and Moji Delano

The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center has re-introduced its long-treasured
FaithHealth Network, a collaborative of faith communities, public health partners, and champion
volunteers, who are collectively addressing the physical, spiritual, and emotional health needs of the
greater Houston community.

What is The Institute for Spirituality and Health? And what is the charter of its FaithHealth Network?

The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center (The Institute or ISH) was established
in 1955 as The Institute of Religion and was a founding member of the world-renowned Texas Medical
Center. The mission of The Institute is to enhance well-being by exploring the relationship between
spirituality and health. The Institute advances this mission by engaging in education, research, and both
public and private programs. An interfaith non-profit organization, The Institute is guided by the belief
that faith and meaning impact health and healing.

The Institute’s FaithHealth Network was initially conceived in 2017 by Dr. Fred Smith, a pioneer in
the relationship between public health and communities of faith. Smith organized a FaithHealth
Summit at the Houston Graduate School of Theology where participants expressed the desire to
create a sustained network whose members could meet regularly, learn from each other, and
collaborate toward enhancing the health of the region.

Today’s FaithHealth Network has evolved extensively under the leadership of The Institute, as it is
interfaith and seeks to nurture the well-being and health of all in our region. Greater Houston’s
interfaith communities have a rich history of collaboration with The Institute and this network’s faith
and public health members are invested in partnership and focused on providing resources and
education to the most at-risk among us. Faith communities often act as sources of authority and trust,
particularly within populations disproportionately detached from traditional health systems. These
include African American as well as non-English speaking, immigrant, and refugee communities. Each
representative organization has the potential to broaden its reach and deepen its engagement by
learning from others and sharing resources. The result is a softening of the burden on hospitals,
healthcare workers, faith homes, and as well as families.

What resources and information are available?

Monthly FaithHealth Network meetings are held virtually via Zoom in partnership with national and local
public health leaders. The following initiatives offer free resources, education, and vaccines:
● FaithHealth Initiative on COVID Health Disparities empowers underserved communities with
free tools and support to reduce chronic stress, heal underlying traumas, and promote overall
● Faith & Diabetes Initiative trains congregational health leaders to provide diabetes and chronic
disease education and prevention classes and peer support to their community members; and,
● FaithHealth Vaccine Initiative involves partnering with faith communities to raise awareness,
foster dialogue, address challenges, and provide free pop-up vaccine sites for the flu and

What does a free vaccination clinic or workshop at a faith home look like?

The FaithHealth Vaccine Initiative seeks for each event to attract 40 to 50 people, ages 5 and older, in
Houston’s Third Ward, Fifth Ward, and Acres Homes communities. The Institute encourages churches,
synagogues, temples, and any faith-based organization wishing to establish and host Pfizer and Moderna
COVID-19 and influenza (flu) vaccination sites to reach out. Mobile vaccination sites are staffed and
supported by local health departments such as the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public
Health, along with licensed medical care partners including The HOPE Clinic. Ideally, some of the
approved vaccination sites will host regular or semi-permanent vaccination events to ensure these
critical resources continue to reach individuals and families in these areas.

This initiative provides faith communities a wide range of options for programs and events. While some
faith homes opt for town-hall style question-and–answer sessions, others have hosted panel discussions,
live seminars and virtual webinars. Recently, a member organization hosted an event titled “Reflecting
on COVID” in collaboration with a local faith-based art institution and featured a public health official
sharing COVID statistics and the importance of addressing health inequity. The mobile vaccination clinic
offers COVID-19 and flu vaccines at no cost. Vaccine recipients are NOT required to have health insurance
as a condition of receiving the vaccinations for free.

To connect with free resources from the FaithHealth Vaccine Initiative or to discuss arranging a pop-up
vaccine clinic, please visit or contact The Institute’s FaithHealth
Project Coordinator, Mojisola Delano, at or (713)797-0600 x-5.

To become a member of the FaithHealth Network, please visit or
email us at

For Media Inquiries, please contact Laura Pennino, Pennino and Partners at or

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