Some rural counties see decline in COVID-19 vaccine interest

Local News

PREBLE COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Officials in some rural counties in the Miami Valley say they’re seeing declining interest in the COVID-19 vaccine, even though all Ohio adults became eligible to receive it less than three weeks ago.

In Preble County, health commissioner Erik Balster told 2 NEWS his team has seen significantly less interest in the vaccine among people age 50 and younger, and officials are looking at new ways to reach that age group.

Among people in Preble County, opinion about the COVID-19 vaccine is mixed.

“I wanted to see grandchildren and my daughter, my son-in-law, and I wanted to take care of my community,” said Janet Crelin of Eaton, who got the vaccine two months ago.

Others, like Misti Wells of Camden, say they’re still not planning to get vaccinated against the virus.

“It’s 98 percent survival,” said Wells. “Why am I going to take it?”

Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows fewer people in some rural counties are getting vaccinated. As of Friday, roughly 26 percent of Preble County’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Statewide, that number is close to 37 percent.

With increasing supply and more providers offering the vaccine, Balster said he doesn’t believe access is the issue.

“For Saturday, we had 600 available, and only 64 signed up, so we actually ended up cutting a clinic short in the afternoon because there just wasn’t the interest,” Balster said.

Preble County Public Health is now offering fewer vaccine clinics due to the decline in sign-ups, Balster said.

Balster said his team is planning to offer vaccine clinics at businesses along with walk-in clinics to try to increase interest.

In Mercer County, which is seeing a similar lag in its vaccination progress compared to the state overall, officials are trying educate people about the benefits of the vaccine and where it’s available, according to Kristy Fryman, emergency response coordinator for the Mercer County Health District.

Mercer County is now seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, particularly among people between the ages of 20 and 40, Fryman said.

“We were #1 in the state for cases per capita for a long time, and we don’t want to go back in that direction,” she said.

Although its first-dose drive-thru clinics have been canceled due to a lack of interest, the Mercer County Health District is still offering the COVID-19 vaccine, Fryman said.

To obtain the COVID-19 vaccine through Preble County Public Health, click here.

To get vaccinated at the Mercer County Health District, click here.

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