Jackson, Stay Well! – Nearly 200 turned out for a battle cry against COVID-19: ‘Get educated, get vaccinated.’

Participants and workers in front of JHCHC building. Photos by Kevin Bradley and Gail Brown

By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D.,

Contributing Writer ,

Participants and workers in front of JHCHC building. Photos by Kevin Bradley and Gail Brown
Keneen Childress was in ICU 38 days.

Elizabeth Cousin of Jackson was among nearly 200 who braved the relatively chilly but sunny Saturday morning, Nov. 6, for a major community health fair in the fight against COVID-19.

Hosted by W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the Greater Jackson Area Chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), Inc., along with 22 other community partners, the Jackson Stay Well community health fair and vaccine event was a wake-up call to everyone.

Cousin, a 70-year Jackson resident, wrapped in warm clothing, told The Mississippi Link that the presenters “were real informative about all these fake things that I have been hearing about.” “They cleared it up for me,” she said. Cousin made a point to inform this writer that she has taken all her vaccinations. “I just took my booster shot this morning,” she added. 

Cousin took her booster inside the facilities of the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (J-HCHC), located at 3502 West Northside Drive. The health center’s grounds and parking lot were the strategic battleground for the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. free, public event.  

The presenters Cousin referenced were local ‘trusted’ African-American healthcare professionals in eye-opening panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lynda Jackson Assad, medical director, J-HCHC. Assad told the audience that it is extremely important to “trust the science,” which was the focus of the panel of doctors and nurses. 

“We must educate before we vaccinate,” stressed Assad. And, educate is exactly what the panel on “Trusting the Science” did.

St. Dominic health care professional taking blood pressure.

Dr. Edith Smith Rayford (OB/GYN) said for those who are concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant that it is safe. Rayford is with the W.Montague Cobb/NMA Initiative. 

She also shared that it is safe to get your dental care after one member of the audience asked a question about some fear going to the dentist because of the pandemic. 

“I was in the dentist chair recently,” Rayford said. She pointed out that dental offices have protected screens up, and that dentistry “had the PPE’s before medical offices did.” 

RN and ICU nurse Sheneta Magee also emphasized the importance of continuing one’s regular dental care during the pandemic because one would not want to develop endocarditis. “It is an infection from your mouth if you have a tooth that needs to be pulled, and it may set up an absess. You’re are swallowing the secretion from the absess,” Magee explained. 

According to mayoclinic.org: “ Endocarditis is a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of your heart’s chambers and valves (endocardium). Endocarditis is usually caused by an infection. Bacteria, fungi or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart. If it’s not treated quickly, endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves. Treatments for endocarditis include medications and, sometimes, surgery.”

There were several other questions and concerns posed to the panelists. Dr. Doris Browne of Browe and Associates shared that: “It is safe to get your mammogram. Protect yourself.” Of course, the panelists told all audience members to consult their own physicians about every concern. 

COVID-related depression was also among those concerns. “I’m treating more and more depression,” said Dr. Geraldine Chaney Buie (Pediatrics), Capital City Children and Adolescent Clinic, PLLC. 

Browne commented that it is important to see your mental health provider. 

One of the partnering exhibitors Fredniki White, clinical director with Mississippi Families for Kids, (a non-profit organization under the department of mental health), also shared with The Mississippi Link the importance of maintaining good mental health during COVID and anytime. She said, “My executive director is Dr. Linda West, and our agency was excited to partner with this event.” “We provide mental health services for children ages 3-21.”

“Today, what I realized is that everyone I’ve spoken with is concerned about their mental health. We are here to help with those who are dealing with anxiety, depressions, and those who have lost love ones,” White added.   

Speaking of loss of loved ones, local pastor Bruce Landing of New Season Christian Fellowship Church was on hand to do a memorial prayer in memories of lives loss to COVID -19. He also gave words of comfort and strength for the families they left behind.

Landing later said, “Many pastors have lost their lives due to COVID. So, as we’ve heard today, COVID has no respect of persons.” He said that although some people think pastors are the closest to God, they are impacted by COVID too. He explained that he “can personally say that this has been one of the most stressful times for pastors.” He had to pray his wife through and others. Landing said he advocates vaccination. “Please sir; please ma’am, get vacinnated,” he said as he spoke into the microphone.  

Panel 2 consisted of “Voices of COVID-19,” individuals who suffered from the virus. They gave power testimonies of recovery but some at great loss. Keneen Childress no longer has his 10 toes as a result of COVID-19-related complications.

“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has a 113-year history of ‘Service to all Mankind,” said Candace Holloway, lead coordinator.

Asked how well she thinks the event did in accomplishing their goals, Holloway said, “I think we had a pretty good turnout.”

She said more than 70 individuals were vaccinated against COVID, and the majority of those received their boosters (Pfizer, Merdero or Johnson and Johnson). “Everything was completely free; no one had to pay anything,” she said. 

The event partners included W Montague Cobb/NMA Health Initiative, United Health Care, Voter Registration Setup, Beta Delta Omega, St. Dominic’s Mobile Care Van, Kidney Focused Care, UMMC School of Dentistry, MS Shared Health, Speak Out Speech Therapy, Harmony Court, Prevention Access, Total Healthcare, MS Lupus Warriors, Tougaloo College, DREF Research JSU, The Links, Temple Rec Fitness, Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Rho Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and Alpha Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. 

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