By Callie Hietala
As case rates continue to climb, both in Virginia and nationwide, and the threat of the new Mu variant looms, members of Martinsville’s City Council are stepping up to get a singular message out to their constituents: Get vaccinated.
At a recent meeting, the council adopted a proclamation recognizing the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for the health and safety of the community. It states, in part, that “statistics demonstrate the effectiveness of the vaccine in that as the number of vaccinations increase, occurrences of Covid cases decrease and furthermore, a very high percentage of new cases, hospitalizations, and Covid-related deaths are among the unvaccinated.”
The proclamation, which also recognizes the rights of citizens to make their own decisions regarding their health and wellness, concludes that council members “do hereby proclaim the importance of citizens participating in the vaccine program for their own personal health, the health of their families, friends, and close contacts, and for the overall public health of our community, and encourage all citizens who have yet to be vaccinated to consider doing so.”
Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson and Vice Mayor Jennifer Bowles also filmed a public service announcement encouraging people to get the vaccine.
The COVID virus “is running rampant in our community,” said Lawson in the PSA. “Please talk with your healthcare provider to get facts, not the fiction you see on social media. Get yourself educated. If you’re not vaccinated, please do so.”
Bowles added that “over 90 percent of the new cases (of COVID-19) are of those who are unvaccinated. I’m here to encourage you to please consider taking the COVID-19 vaccination as it helps boost your body’s immune system to protect and fight the virus. Please consider talking to your medical professional or your primary care physician to get the most accurate and detailed information about the virus. This can help you understand that misinformation is happening across the globe but talk to someone you know and trust.”
Both Lawson and Bowles end their segments with a variation of “I got my vaccine, have you?”
As previously reported, council member Tammy Pearson is offering a free barbeque sandwich to unvaccinated citizens who become fully vaccinated and challenged other local businesses to follow her lead in helping to incentivize the public to get vaccinated. Thus far, Pearson said, The Ground Floor, Hollywood Cinema, and The Daily Grind have also offered their own incentives.
According to the Virginia Department of Health website, as of Tuesday, September 14, 48.3 percent of all Martinsville residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 61.9 percent of the adult population (18+) have received both of their shots (or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.) In Henry County, 40.9 percent of the whole population has been fully vaccinated, including only 48.5 percent of the adult population.