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If serving and protecting my community matters, this shot matters

Stuart Bowen Stuart Bowen, police chief, South Hill

As the police chief of South Hill, Stuart Bowen is dedicated to looking out for others. That’s why this shot matters to him.

“I felt my civic duty was to get vaccinated,” he said. “I’m just doing my part to get to that herd immunity so we can get past this.”

A town of 4,400 in southern Virginia, South Hill has experienced its share of loss from COVID-19. “It's one thing for it to be a number and you see it on a news report. It's another thing when you actually have some kind of connection with these folks in a small community,” Bowen said.

Some officers missed shifts after falling ill with COVID-19, so the police chief didn’t need convincing to get the shot. Unfortunately, he tested positive for COVID-19 before he could get fully vaccinated. He lost his sense of taste and smell and went to bed each night worrying he would wake up with worse symptoms. He ultimately recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 and counts himself lucky.

Vaccine-in-arm, the chief is looking forward to walking the beat through downtown and seeing people face-to-face again. He also can’t wait to get back into a movie theater, he said. Streaming a Marvel superhero movie at home with his 13-year-old son just isn’t the same.

Bowen hears skepticism about getting vaccinated from some in South Hill, including his own officers. He suggests skeptics do their own research about the vaccine. Only then will they realize this shot is our opportunity to move beyond the pandemic, he said.

“This is no different than what went on with smallpox and things like that, which devastated generations before us,” he said. “It’s going to be a team effort.”

To get vaccinated, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov. To read more stories like this, visit vcuhealth.org/thisshotmatters.