Dorothy Oliver, a Black woman from Panola, Alabama, is getting national attention and receiving high praises for her dedication to helping almost everyone in her small town to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Panola, Alabama, a small rural town that currently has about 400 residents, did not have its own vaccine center and the nearest is 40 miles away. That’s when Oliver, along with county commissioner Drucilla Russ-Jackson, took the initiative to coordinate a pop-up vaccination clinic with the nearest hospital.
“I just felt like I had to do it because the government, nobody does enough in this area,” she said, according to The New Yorker. “This area here is majority Black. Kind of puts you on the back burner. That’s just it. I mean, you don’t have to put nothing else with that. That’s just it. I don’t have to elaborate on that one.”
But she didn’t just stop with bringing the vaccine center to the town. As the hospital requires at least 40 people to sign up for vaccination before they could start the vaccination, Oliver did her best to eliminate vaccine hesitancy by personally talking to the residents.
Oliver, who is a retired office administrator and now a local general store owner, dedicated her time to making phone calls and going door-to-door to convince residents to get vaccinated. If they ever have questions, Oliver would kindly answer.
Her mission in getting many people in her town vaccinated is featured in a short documentary called The Panola Project by Rachael DeCruz and Jeremy S. Levine.
Moreover, Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, but Panola has a 94% vaccination rate thanks to Oliver. And she is working on persuading the other residents who haven’t got vaccinated yet.