Is Jackson County a hotspot of vaccine reluctance?
That appears to be the case as the rate of Covid vaccinations has trended downward in the county over the past four weeks.
Last week, only 354 Jackson Countians received a vaccine compared to nearly 1,400 who got a shot in one week during the middle of March.
The downturn in vaccine administrations is reflected in the county's lagging the state average. Only 20% of countians had received at least one dose of the vaccine this week compared to 32% statewide. Only 16% of countians are fully vaccinated compared to 20% statewide.
Although the overall numbers are low, a majority of older citizens in the county — those most at risk for serious illness or death — have been vaccinated.
Some 96% of those over age 85 in Jackson County have been vaccinated while 81% of those 75-84 have gotten the vaccine.
But the rate of vaccinations drops off significantly for those under the age of 65. A majority of those age 65-74 get vaccinated — 63%. But that drops by half, to 30.6%, for those ages 55-64.
The rates for those under age 54 are very low:
45-54 — 17.8%
35-44 — 15%
25-34 — 10%
20-24 — 9.2%
16-19 — 3%
Vaccine hesitancy during the current Covid pandemic has been an issue nationwide, especially in conservative and Republican strongholds. Polls have shown that a significant percentage of Republican voters — 35-45% in most polls — say they won't get a vaccine shot.
In addition, there are pockets of resistance in some minority communities.
Doctors predict it will take getting the population vaccinated at a rate of 60-90% for the nation to reach "herd immunity" where the virus will no longer pose a pandemic threat. But projections indicate that the current vaccine push won't reach that level.
That could mean that the virus continues to have a large pool of unvaccinated hosts from which to spread in the future.
The vaccine reluctance has been most pronounced among men. Only 17.3% of men in Jackson County have been vaccinated compared to 23.4% of women.
Although the rate of local deaths from the virus has slowed since reaching a peak in January and February, six people in Jackson County have died from the virus so far in April.
To date, 137 virus deaths have been confirmed in the county with 11 other suspected deaths. Around 500 people have been hospitalized with complications from the virus.