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Many are working hard on vaccine rollout

To the editor:

By now everyone knows that the COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed and have found the availability of the vaccine and the accessibility to it has proven challenging in our city, as it is in many places across the state and country. This has led to criticism and finger-pointing, mainly at the Virginia Health Department and in the case of Suffolk, the Western Tidewater Health District. My purpose in writing this letter is to accentuate the positive.

Early this year, I was asked by Del. Clinton Jenkins to serve on a committee dedicated to understanding and improving the rollout of the vaccine. Many know that I have been extremely passionate about this issue after losing my Mom to it in July. Delegate Jenkins has engaged physicians, representatives from the health systems, pharmacies, city staff, pastors and the lead person for our health district — Will Drewery. Clearly, it is a wide net of individuals dedicated to getting Suffolkians vaccinated.

I want the citizens to know the name Will Drewery. He is a team of one with part-time and volunteer help handling the vaccine rollout for the Western Tidewater Health District. He is working 24/7 — on the phone, organizing and overseeing vaccination events, and helping people navigate the system. He works endlessly to get more vaccines and not to waste a single one. The VDH could not have a more dedicated employee anywhere. I asked him the other day what kept him going. His answer was “patriotism and caffeine” and that he wakes up every day excited about what he is doing. So when you hear negative comments about VDH, remember two things: they can’t give vaccines they don’t get, and Will Drewery deserves nothing but accolades. This dedicated public servant is working for us.

I also want everyone to know that Del. Clinton Jenkins is working hard for his constituents. I am honored to be able to help him as he works to make sure all citizens who want the vaccine have access to it. He has led the charge to have churches available as vaccine sites, is constantly asking the tough questions in Richmond and beyond as to how to get more vaccines. Even though in session, he immediately turns to this task as soon as he is done. He returns calls faster than anyone I know, and if he doesn’t have the answer, he will call until he does.

Having been in politics for 20 years, I know that often the public doesn’t see the work that goes on from the inside, and at times the good deeds go unrecognized and unappreciated. It’s simply because people don’t know. I want the citizens of Suffolk to know that your Delegate Jenkins and Will Drewery of the WTHD will not quit until the people they care about and work for are vaccinated. As for me, I will help them in any way I can. Nothing is more important than putting COVID-19 behind us. Let’s all do our part — mask up, wash your hands and socially distance.

I know the first thing that will come to mind by some in reading this letter is that I did not support Delegate Jenkins in his campaign. That is true, and yet he reached out to me to ask me to serve and help. That speaks volumes for him and gives faith and credence that we all can put differences aside and work together for the good of all.

Be safe and God Bless.

Linda Johnson

Suffolk