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‘Avoyelles Sleeves Up’ helps population go from 16 percent fully vaccinated to 42 percent

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (KALB) - A grassroots organization in Avoyelles Parish continues to encourage people to get vaccinated. Avoyelles Sleeves Up has contributed to hundreds of people getting the shot.

The push to get more people vaccinated in Avoyelles Parish continues as people recount losing their loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martha Jones’ world was turned upside down a little over a year ago. That’s when she found out she lost her 37-year-old son, Van Keith Jones Jr., to COVID-19.

“I would’ve given my life for his,” said Jones.

Martha, who also had COVID-19 at the exact same time, didn’t know her son had passed until she left the hospital.

“The aftereffect is the worst thing, finding out that your child is in the hospital when you get home and he’s not there,” said Jones.

She said she wishes the COVID-19 vaccine was around back then.

“Take the shot. If you don’t want to save your own life, save someone else’s life.”

Stories like this are why the Avoyelles Sleeves Up program exists in the parish. The goal is simple: Get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“COVID is not gone, it’s still here. It’s still here, it’s still a killer and without a vaccine, you’re literally playing Russian roulette,” said Liz Leger, Avoyelles Sleeves Up Program Coordinator.

The program, which began in April, continues to grow with the help of stakeholders and teams staged in every community across the parish.

“Since we started in April, I’m sure we’ve done hundreds and hundreds of vaccines from our teams,” said Leger.

When the program first launched, only 16% of the population was fully vaccinated. Now, 42% of the population has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We bring the vaccine and we bring you to the vaccine if you need a ride. One of our partners is providing rides for us,” said Leger.

The program doesn’t stop there. Beginning this week, Avoyelles Sleeves Up will also be in Avoyelles public schools, giving out the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 17.

“That is one of our proudest projects, being able to partner with the Avoyelles Parish Public School System to get children vaccinated,” said Leger.

The program is getting more shots in arms so that no other mom has to bury her son.

“A tool is available that can save your life, and I think you should take advantage of using that tool,” said Leger.

Martha said every single person can step up to help in this initiative and prevent future deaths.

“Take the shot, love people enough to take the shot, please, please,” she said.

The program hosted a parish-wide vaccination event at “Fresh Catch Monday.” Everyone who got the vaccine received $100, a free beer from Broken Wheel Brewery and a chance to win two free dinners.

To learn more about the initiative, you can call Avoyelles Sleeves Up at 318-717-8075 or visit their website here.

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