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St. Joseph Health Department concerned as interest in vaccine drops and COVID cases rise

“We’re having trouble getting people interested in the vaccine. I don’t know why,” said Debra Bradley, St. Joseph Health Director.

Posted: May 3, 2021 5:40 PM
Updated: May 4, 2021 9:25 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine dwindles in Buchanan County, the St. Joseph Health Department is giving it one more shot. 

Tuesday, the health department will host a vaccine clinic at Civic Arena in hopes of raising the county's low vaccination rate which hovers only above 15%. The clinic will run from 9-11 a.m. 

“We’re having trouble getting people interested in the vaccine. I don’t know why,” said Debra Bradley, St. Joseph Health Director. 

Health officials are stocked with the Moderna vaccine, 400 doses ready to administer and 50 open vaccination appointment slots, but they said demand just isn't there. Bradley said it's the lack of local interest that might force Buchanan County to give away its doses. 

“If within the next month or so we’re not able to use it, we’re gonna have to find some place to send it so that way it gets used and not wasted,” said Bradley, “My fear is this opportunity to get vaccinated is going to go away if we’re not taking advantage of it.”

The drop in vaccine demand comes as new coronavirus cases are shooting up. The health department reported cases nearly tripling in just one week- 90 COVID-19 cases reported last week compared to 33 cases the week prior.

Health officials said the same age group testing positive for the virus is likely the same ones least interested in receiving the vaccine. 

“The group that has been most impacted recently has been individuals in their 20’s. That group has not been terribly interested in the vaccine,” said Bradley. 

The health department is connecting the dots with the county's rising COVID-19 cases with the city of St. Joseph's laxing mask order as city leaders rid the mask order prematurely in late March.  

“Our numbers have increased and it’s because we haven’t been wearing our masks and our vaccination rate is very low,” said Bradley, “I think that people felt because restrictions were lifted that it was okay to go back to pre-COVID times.”

By giving residents another chance to roll up their sleeve with another community clinic, health officials hope to swap rising cases with rising vaccinations. 

Bradley said, “It is frustrating because our vaccination rate is low and we want to change that. We want to show others that we care about each other and we want to protect each other, but our vaccination rate is not showing that right now. So, that’s why we’re trying to give people another opportunity to get vaccinated.”

To sign up for an appointment for Tuesday morning's vaccination clinic, click here. 

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