Last December when Rotary International President Holger issued a “Call to Action” to fight COVID, “Harbor Town” Duluth MN and Superior WI area clubs not only responded, but they built a community working group that might be duplicated.
Here is how it came together: mid-January, leaders began exploring opportunities to collaborate with area health service organizations and each other. They wished to learn more how their members could be of service, to join in the fight against the COVID pandemic, much as Rotarians take on Polio together. Joe Radtke of Superior Rotary Club, and District 5580 Governor Bob McLean began reaching out to health service professionals in the region. By mid-January Club leadership assembled Essentia Health, St Luke’s Health, St Louis County and Douglas County Health Departments, Native Health, and other public health advocates to discuss what healthcare providers most needed from community leaders. Turns out what was most on minds, was how Rotary might support and promote vaccines and educate about their safety and efficacy.
In the initial meeting all agreed that Rotary’s successful polio vaccination campaign brings independent credibility to the public, and a sustained public message from Rotary could help move undecided residents in our communities. At the same time, District Governor McLean was in touch with District 5950 Governor Tom Gump and District 5960 Governor Ed Marek, to see about amplifying vaccine adoption with Tri-District public image structure (www.rotarymidwest.org) that already exists, and they readily agreed.
The collaborative group continues to meet and define various platforms and social networks for broadcasting the importance of the vaccines and following the Department of Health protocol on gatherings while vaccines are rolled out. Letters-to-the-editor signed by all three district governors distributed widely and published in the Duluth News Tribune, Austin Daily Herald, Hudson Star Observer, and Fargo Forum. Clubs are encouraged to send a similar letter to their local papers and media outlets. In April and May, Tri-District is sponsoring a Minnesota Public Radio campaign. District 5960 Governor Designee Dr. Dayle Quigley, with a unique perspective on the power of vaccines and Rotary’s polio efforts, is available to speak to clubs. Additionally, an excellent PowerPoint presentation, prepared by Essentia Health, is available for clubs to present to their members as well as to their respective communities. Finally, during the District 5580 conference, a forum will be held Monday evening, April 26, discussing the physical and emotional impact COVID is having on our communities. Panelists include the Chief Medical Officer of Essentia Health, the CEO of Sanford North/Bemidji, and the Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health University of North Dakota Medical School. The public is welcome at no charge, but registration is required; visit rotary5580.org OR www.bemidji2021.com for more information.
“We are all eager to return to more normalcy in our lives and we are seeing clear signs of hope with the expanding Covid vaccination campaign. Our role as Rotarians is to use our voices, our social networks, and our access to media platforms to help educate our communities about vaccine myths, provide facts, encourage everyone to stay the course, be vaccinated when it is their turn, and remind them: ‘This shot’s for all of us!’” – The Tri-District COVID Vaccine Team