Sleeves Up! Mississippi Vaccinate

The message from local Rotarians is simple – get vaccinated! To bring that point into clear focus, the Rotary Clubs of Jackson County invited Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell to roll up his sleeve and take the shot. With the backdrop of a steady queue of vehicles at the Jackson County Fairground vaccination site, he did just that, surrounded by a sea of yard signs that will soon take up prominent locations across the county, encouraging others to follow.

The brainchild of Moss Point Rotary Club President Steve Renfroe, the yard sign project was embraced by the leadership of the region’s Rotary District 6840 and the four local Jackson County clubs. District Assistant Governor Jennifer Garlich worked with Steve to launch this effort, which truly exemplifies Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self. Encouraging disease prevention is at the core of much of Rotary International’s goals, that includes the 35-year effort to rid the world of Polio.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no exception and Rotary has worked closely with local health organizations like the Singing River Health System and Mississippi Department of Health to get the message out to everyone that the end is possible through the process of vaccination. And a big part of the event staged on March 18th was about sharing the thoughts of the key participants, including Sheriff Ezell, who was hesitant at first. Mike’s message today is this, “Let’s get well so we can get back to life.”

Also on hand to convey a reason to do the same was Dr. Eric Washington of Bienville Orthopedic Specialists, who wants everyone to know that the vaccine is safe and effective.

“We have spent the whole year playing defense. Let’s take the offense,” he said.

And, if reasons from a public servant and a health professional are not enough, Moss Point Rotary member Reverend Peggy Gibson of Saint Paul United Methodist Church said, “We have to lead the way as community leaders – if we truly love our neighbor.”

The last thought of the day came from Assistant Governor and member of the Pascagoula Rotary Club, Jennifer Garlich.

“We cannot leave anyone out of our target audience,” she stressed. “Every one of us is important.”

The message is as clear as it can be – exemplified on the white signs with the big Band-Aid – Sleeves Up! Mississippi Vaccinate

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Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.

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