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Health official reacts to new vaccination rate

St. Joseph Health Department reported Thursday the county's vaccination rate is now around 38 percent for initial doses and about 35 percent fully vaccinated.

Posted: Sep 24, 2021 7:39 AM
Updated: Oct 13, 2021 1:48 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph Health Department reported Thursday the county's vaccination rate is now around 38 percent for initial doses and about 35 percent fully vaccinated.

We spoke to the director of the department today about her reaction to the news yesterday that 23,000 COVID-19 shot records were not filed in Buchanan County.

Local public health officials are excited to see the recent change in vaccination numbers.

“I was happy to hear that people were doing what we asked them to do. It was just kind of a validation that people were doing it,” Health Director Debra Bradley said.

St. Joseph Health Department director Debra Bradley says her staff has been working hard.

Between on-site clinics at businesses, pop-up clinics, and field interviews with reporters sometimes on a daily basis.

They have been frustrated watching the county vaccination rate hover around 20 percent for months.

"We kept saying, gosh we've done a lot of vaccines in our community and it just didn't seem to be going up as fast as it should have been but we trusted the system and so it was quite a surprise to find out that so many of them had not been accounted, had not been attributed to Buchanan County until now,” Bradley said.

Wednesday the city reported that the state fixed a slew of software problems and reporting errors.

"The largest error they found was that the county was not entered. Period it was just left blank and again it wasn't required so when you are trying to input hundreds of reports,” Bradley said.

The result was a jump in Buchanan County's vaccination rate from 20 to 25 percent to 35 to 40 percent.

"Our community is much safer than we had been led to believe," Bradley said.

To be clear, the total number of Missourians vaccinated was correct, but about 147,000 records were recorded for either the wrong county or no county including 23,000 here.

"The state had a lot of mass clinics in January, February, March, and we had a lot of help from other agencies and I think that everyone was just going as fast as we could. The system didn't keep up and nobody knew that these records were just going into this other pot,” Bradley said.

Bradley says that while all of this was a surprise, it helped make sense of what we were seeing as far as death, hospitalizations, and cases this summer.

"Our numbers were looking good as far as the number of cases and the number of deaths and I was continuing to be hopeful that this was a trend that we are going to be on and then on the other side I'm holding my breath because we had a low vaccination rate,” Bradley said.

Bradley says that while she's no longer holding her breath, she's not completely at ease just yet.

"If we could get to 50 percent? That would be great. You know more is even better but we'll see,” Bradley said.

The health department also reported that Buchanan county has added 71 new cases since Monday.

No new deaths to report, the toll sits at 213 and one new hospitalizations brings Mosaic up to 23 Covid-19 patients in isolation at its St. Joseph campus.

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