Health leaders push for more shots in one of North Carolina’s least-vaccinated counties

Low vaccination rates in Columbus County has health leaders concerned
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:36 PM EST
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina set a new pandemic record on Wednesday with 4,098 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. Now, leaders are pushing for people to get both vaccinated and boosted against the virus to lower their risk of hospitalization.

Out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, only five have a lower vaccination rate than Columbus County. According to the NCDHHS website, 42 percent of people in Columbus County are fully vaccinated, and 46 percent have received at least one dose.

County Health Director Kim Smith believes the rate is low because residents do not know enough about the shot.

“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there and now that that misinformation is out there, that’s all they’re listening to,” said Smith. “They won’t listen to others that have the right information, or they don’t seek out the right information.”

The county health department has tried to raise the rate by hosting vaccine clinics at county schools, but not many adults showed up, and few brought their children to get vaccinated.

“Very low attendance for those, or very low participation,” said Ronnie Strickland, chairman of the Columbus County Board of Education. “And, you know, everybody has their own decision to make and we’re going to leave it at that.”

Smith hopes parents will be more encouraged to get both themselves and their children vaccinated as the virus spreads.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t see what we were hoping to see as far as the kids coming in,” Smith said. “Maybe after another month or so of it being out there then the parents can see that it’s just like any other childhood immunization.”

According to the state health department, 235 Columbus County residents have lost their lives to COVID-19. Smith says the vaccine can keep that number from growing.

“The vaccine is out there,” said Smith. “There’s no need for anyone to pass away because the vaccine is out there, that will help make the COVID case that you have lighter, less severe [symptoms] so hopefully you won’t have to endure a hospitalization.”

The Columbus County Health Department offers COVID-19 vaccines. Visit the health department’s website to find out how to book an appointment.

StarMed also hosts a vaccine clinic Monday through Friday at St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church in Whiteville. Click here for more information.

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