The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta's Low Vaccination Rate Is Biggest Obstacle to Fighting the Pandemic--May 27, 2021

Posted on May 27, 2021 at 09:59 AM

The Greater Delta Region has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, with five states in the region below 40% and among the six lowest rates in the country. Please encourage your friends, relatives and associates in the Delta to get vaccinated ASAP.

Mississippi has the lowest rate in America at 33%, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, (Georgia), Louisiana and Tennessee for those who have received at least one shot. This is behind the national average of almost half of Americans having at least one shot.

Mayors and other local elected officials, state legislators, the Surgeon General, Centers for Disease Control, and health experts in our region including Dr. Susan Ward Jones, medical doctor and CEO of the East Arkansas Family Health Center based in West Memphis, and Dean Thomas LaVeist of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans stressed the urgency of people in our region getting vaccinated.

The vaccine is safe and effective, with 95% of those vaccinated not getting the virus; but the most important fact being that 100% of those vaccinated are protected against the most severe versions of the illness leading to hospitalization or death.

In a May 13 presentation to the Delta Zoom conference, Dr. Susan Ward-Jones of East Arkansas Family Health Center emphasized the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and urged people to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Dr. LaViest, the Tulane health equity expert, assured people that “corners were not cut” in developing the vaccine, and that the Delta and other Southern states’ hesitancy poses a threat to the entire country, because the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more time the virus has to spread, mutate and possibly acquire the ability to evade vaccines.

LaViest said his biggest concern is “that there is going to be a variant that’s going to outsmart the vaccine. Then we’ll have a new problem. We’ll have to revaccinate.”

Quick facts:

The vaccine is safe. Side effects often include soreness at the injection site, Some people have fatigue, headaches or fever. Thus far, about three fourths of those vaccinated have not experienced serious side effects.

95% of those vaccinated do not get the virus. Most importantly, the vaccine thus far has been 100% effective in preventing the most serious versions of the illness leading to hospitalization or death.

You cannot get Covid-19 from the vaccine.

It takes a few weeks to build immunity after being vaccinated. It is possible to get the virus right after being vaccinated.

In the Delta less than 40% have been vaccinated. Nationally about one half of Americans have received one shot. About 60% of the population nationally have not received two shots.

A mutation has arrived that is more transmissible and causes more serious illness. These cases are currently below 1%. With anti-pandemic measures being loosened, mutations arriving, and still large numbers of people who are not vaccinated, this is a crucial time to win the race against the virus by stepping up vaccinations NOW.

If you are young, healthy and not at very high risk of getting a serious version of the virus, please get vaccinated so that you will be far less likely to transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable.

In the current environment, many people rely on the experiences of people they know. We have confidence in the advice of experts like Dr. Ward-Jones, Dr. LaViest, Dr. Anthony Faucil and others.

There are some people who tend not to rely on experts but will be influenced by experiences of people they know who have taken the vaccine.

Just FYI, here are a few personal experiences of Delta Caucus partners, just as examples of people we know who have had the vaccine:

Millie Atkins, senior Delta Caucus adviser based in Monroe, Louisiana and a former senior official at CenturyLink before retiring, said that as an African American she initially had some reservations about taking the vaccine because of the history of African Americans “being used as pawns in the past, and not just the Tuskegee incident.” But she ultimately decided that the need to keep her family and herself safe was the crucial concern.

Ms. Atkins said she felt “a sense of freedom” after receiving the vaccine because she no longer had to be concerned about whether to take it or not. She had mild reactions to the vaccine consisting of headaches and off-and-on fever for 24 hours, which she resolved by taking Tylenol and fluids.

Rev. Ray Higgins, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas in Little Rock, said “I’m so glad I got the vaccination. I had very minor side effects the day after the second shot. Very much worth it.”

Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell had no side effects other than very mild soreness in his arms for a day.

Wilson Golden, former US Dept. of Transportation official and Mississippi native, had virtually no side effects, with only minimal soreness at the injection site.

Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America and frequent speaker at Delta Caucus meetings: “I received both Moderna shots, and only had slight chills for about an hour the day after the first shot.” “It was more than well worth it to protect myself, as well as everyone I come into contact with, from the deadly disease of COVID-19. Because my job takes me into contact with low-income populations – who often have compromised immune systems and are thus at extra risk from the pandemic – it was especially important for me to get vaccinated so that I did not unintentionally get others sick.”

Billy McFarland, nonprofit executive at TS Police Support League in Eutaw, Greene County, Alabama in the Alabama Black Belt, had no significant side effects.

Harvey Joe Sanner, American Ag Movement of Arkansas based in Des Arc, Arkansas, had no problems from either shot and only very mild soreness in his arms.

´╗┐For more information see the East Arkansas Family Health Center website at:

Centers for Disease Control website: