MCGEHEE, Ark. (KARK) – Arkansas remains one of the lowest states for vaccinations across the country. Rural areas are some of the worst. That’s why a woman in McGehee is making it her mission to increase vaccinations, one person, at a time.
Every day 71-year-old Dollie Wilson goes door-to-door to get more people in her community vaccinated.
“Sometimes it’s one or two a day. Sometimes it’s five a day,” Wilson said.
She retired after a more than three-decade career with the Arkansas Department of Health. She knows how important a shot of protection is for everyone in her small community.
“I have lots of time on my hands so why not use it for something that’s going to help somebody,” Wilson said.
She hits about 20 houses a day and either signs neighbors up for the shot or gets information from people still on the fence. She said persistence is key.
“I started calling names and names and names. This was just yesterday,” Wilson said.
In the last two weeks, she’s gotten more than 30 people to get their first dose. She will even drive people, like Happy Hampton, to their appointment.
“We came together with the time. She was right here she said, ‘I’m going to be there every step of the way,'” Hampton said.
She and her two kids got their first dose this morning.
“At first I was scared, but I did it and I feel much better,” Hampton said.
Wilson said sometimes calming people’s fears is all it takes.
“I ask them ‘what are you more afraid of’ and they tell me and we just talk about it,” Wilson said.
She said watching each person take a seat and roll up their sleeve makes this effort all worth it.
“If it is but one person, that’s one we don’t have to worry about,” Wilson said.
Wilson also asks each person to then talk to their family and friends about getting the vaccine. She said hearing advice from people that know and love you makes all the difference.