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Vaccination urged by ER supervisor

Panola Medical Center ER Supervisor Genessa Egerson has reached out to the African American community in an effort to change attitudes toward the Covid-19 vaccines. (Glennie Pou)

By Allen Brewer

It only took a few seconds.

After Registered Nurse Stacey Kesler administered the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to Genessa Egerson’s arm, Egerson said she experienced no side effects. She was one of the health care workers at the Panola Medical Center to receive the vaccine two week’s ago.

As an African American woman at risk of catching the virus, Egerson knew it was important to get vaccinated. Noticing how many members of her community were hesitant about the vaccine, she wanted to encourage others to take the vaccine once it is available.

“To my African American community, I understand the hesitation with the vaccine, but I have a comfort in knowing that, unlike previous vaccines, people of color were included in the origination of this vaccine,” Egerson said.

Egerson is the supervisor of the Panola Medical Center E.R. In all her practice; however, she said she had never seen such a rapidly increasing infection rate as was with Covid-19.   

“It’s like nothing I have ever seen, and I have been a nurse for 20 years,” Egerson said. “It’s indescribable.”

The virus has also affected her personal life. A member of the Mt. Hope Ministry Baptist Church in Taylor, MS, many of her fellow church patrons have been diagnosed with the virus.

To keep its attendance safe, Mt. Hope, like many other churches in Panola and Lafayette County, has had to host alternative places to worship. Such locations include parking lot services and virtual sermons.

“We are just so blessed that God has given up one more Sunday morning to come and just share the word with you,” Pastor James Hall said on a Facebook Live video on December 13. “We are so grateful that God just enabled us to endure and continue to, not only survive but to thrive in these difficult times.”

Despite these safety measures, Egerson warns that infection could still be possible when members eventually come in contact with each other. People showing no symptoms can act as carriers and spread the illness unintentionally. It can also be hard to tell who is more at risk of catching the virus at first glance.

“I was just telling another patient, you just don’t know,” Egerson said. “You cannot tell who could have complications with the virus.”

To be safe, Egerson says everyone should get vaccinated. The process, like the one she received, was quick and painless. While her arm was a little sore for the rest of the day, Egerson said she did not feel different inside.

According to the Mississippi State Departed of Health, healthcare works and the residents and staff of long-term care facilities are still receiving the vaccine. Once the state has more vaccines in the coming weeks, hospitals will begin vaccinating groups such as older adults and people with chronic diseases.

“I want the community to know that to get rid of COVID, most people need to get vaccinated,” Egerson said. “That will take the effort of all people of all races,”

Egerson’s first vaccination was administered two weeks ago, and she will receive another dosage in the following week. This process will ensure that she and her staff at the E.R. will remain healthy and active to serve the needs of the Panola area.

“I’m just glad to be a part of a team that gives care in a small community,” Egerson said.

While the general public may not receive the vaccine at this date, the health department will provide new information about the vaccine when it is available.