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Partners push COVID vaccine

A partnership between Vidant Bertie Hospital and the West Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association (WRMBA) will assist with the effort to vaccinate individuals against the COVID-19 virus by offering those life-saving shots within local communities.

On Saturday, April 17 at four locations across Bertie County, Vidant Bertie Hospital will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to all citizens ages 18 and older without pre-registration. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose and has been tested against the variants of the virus that are known today.

Vaccination locations are as follows:

C.G. White School, 503 Main Street, Powellsville, from 9 am until 12 noon;

The new Blue Jay Recreation Center on Indian Woods Road from 9 am until 12 noon;

West Bertie Elementary School, 3734 Governors Road, Kelford, from 1-4 pm; and

Windsor Community Building, 201 South Queen Street, from 1-4 pm.

The primary goal of this partnership will be to leverage the faith based connections of churches through the WRMBA to help encourage citizens, especially in minority and underserved communities, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“All across Bertie, Black citizens are not coming out in the numbers we need to protect themselves and our community,” said Ronald “Ron” Wesson, a member of the Association as well as a Bertie County Commissioner.

“We are asking Black pastors to help us encourage their members and area citizens to take advantage of this special opportunity,” Wesson added. “Even if most of your members have been vaccinated, we all know family members, neighbors and friends who have not been vaccinated. Please help us get these people vaccinated.”

There are other community partners also involved in this effort, to include retired Bertie County educator and current Windsor Town Commissioner Camille Rascoe.

“With these clinics on April 17, we’re hoping to reach those individuals who at first were very hesitant about receiving the vaccine,” stated Rascoe. “It’s up to all of us to stop COVID in its tracks and we can do so by getting this vaccine.”

Having the WRMBA onboard to help in this countywide effort is important said Rascoe.

“We’re using the Association to help spread the information about these clinics,” she stressed. “Some of the churches have volunteered to use their vans and buses to transport people to the vaccination sites…that’s a blessing in itself.”

Brian Harvill, President of Vidant Bertie, said the hospital in Windsor has been offering vaccine clinics since late January. When approached by Wesson and the WRMBA officials about the community clinics, Havill stated he jumped on the opportunity to offer the vaccine to a broader area in the county.

“We joined this effort to better serve the historically marginalized population of Bertie County,” Harvill noted.

He added that even though the number of new and active COVID-19 cases locally is declining, now is not the time to let our guard down against this deadly virus.

“It’s not coincidental that we’re seeing a decline in those numbers now that the vaccine is more readily available,” Harvill remarked. “The vaccine is working and I want to see that trend keep going in the right direction. We can do that by taking advantage of one of these clinics on April 17 in Bertie County.”

Rev. David Moore is the Pastor of Indian Woods Missionary Baptist Church. He also serves as the Moderator for the WRMBA.

“When we began discussing ways to offer this life-saving vaccine, we all agreed that our citizens would perhaps feel more comfortable by going to a location they’re familiar with,” said Rev. Moore. “The four sites we chose are strategically placed throughout the county where we feel they will have the most impact.”

Moore said offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be an effective way to administer shots in a rural area.

“We’re seeing cases where our local citizens go to have their first shot of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and then not go back a few weeks later to get that all important second dose,” he noted. “Those vaccines work, but you have to get two shots. With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s a one-and-done shot.

“I just pray that our citizens take this opportunity on April 17 to get the vaccine; we all want to get back to some sort of normalcy,” Rev. Moore added.

Bertie County Commissioner Ron Roberson also encouraged local citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated.

“This is a dream come true, getting Vidant Bertie and the West Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association together in an effort to get everyone vaccinated against this deadly disease,” Roberson remarked. “We all need to do our part so we can get back to our normal lives.

“Come one….come all; come get your shot and go out and hug your children, your grandbabies, your nieces and nephews,” he concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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