PANOLA Ala. (WIAT) — In honor of Black History Month, CBS 42 spoke with two African American women who made big efforts in helping their community of Panola in the fight against COVID-19.

Both Dorothy Oliver and Commissioner Druscilla Jackson made it their mission to ensure Panola residents were given the chance to get vaccinated in 2021. Since they are a rural community, they both said lack of resources impacted how quickly the vaccine could be made available there. This led them to bring vaccinations to the community by partnering with several health agencies, including the county health department and Whatley Health Services, to make the vaccine available right in their own community.

It all began with educating residents on the importance of getting vaccinated.

“After we passed out flyers and got posters printed, the rest was really history,” Jackson said.

Oliver added that for many people of the community it meant a lot to see these women work to improve vaccination efforts. This was especially vital for the elderly population, since many were unable to book vaccination appointments online. Plus, there were transportation issues for some people as well.

“A lot of them don’t have no way to go. At that, we were like 40 miles to go to get the vaccination,” Oliver said.

The work of the women led to the launch of several vaccination clinics in the town’s post office and community center.

Both women said they were faced with some resistance from people concerned about taking the vaccine, and this led them to partner with several pastors at local churches, including Arthur Gilliam. He credits the work of the congregations teaming up with the women for helping nearly the entire community get vaccinated.

“Ms. Jackson was going to the houses and getting them and it’s been a big help to have good community people. They are the heart beat of this community and they keep this community going,” Pastor Gilliam said.

The work of both Druscilla Jackson and Dorothy Oliver inspired and led many other neighboring communities to work harder to reach their unvaccinated residents. They also said they are still holding out hope and working to reach the people who still haven’t taken the shot.