Vaccination rate remains low in Audrain County

Vaccination rate remains low in Audrain County
Dave Faries

With only 27 percent of Audrain County residents fully vaccinated and active COVID-19 cases again on the rise, the Audrain County Health Department issued an advisory last week urging people to get their shots.

“We don’t want to become the next COVID hotspot in Missouri,” said ACHD administrator and CEO Craig Brace.

ACHD recently concluded a series of clinics providing the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A total of 84 people took advantage of the offer, not enough to boost county totals toward what Brace considers an acceptable level.

“For the most part, we have moved into a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Brace observed. “We can’t stress enough how important it is that those that remain unvaccinated receive the vaccine.”

As of Monday morning, 6,757 county residents had been fully vaccinated. Another 939 had completed the first round of Moderna or Pfizer injections.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been stalking Missouri, particularly in the southwest portion of the state. But Audrain County has seen an increase in active cases over recent weeks, as well.

According to ACHD data, there were 37 confirmed and probable cases as of Thursday evening, up from just 10 confirmed and probables on June 30. Brace adds that unvaccinated residents account for the majority of new infections.

Studies tracking the pandemic around the world appear to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccines against new variants, including Delta. Research reveals the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to be 96 effective at preventing serious illness from the virus. Reports from Canada and the United Kingdom found the Johnson & Johnson single shot was between 79 percent and 87 percent effective at blocking the Delta variant from causing sickness.

Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 99.2 percent of June deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. were victims who were not vaccinated.

None of the vaccinations approved so far are 100 percent effective. “But,” Brace pointed out, “if you’re unvaccinated, there’s nothing stopping it from affecting you in a very serious way.”

The U.S. is added 26,000 new cases each day, according to the CDC. Hospitalizations are up 36 percent and deaths have increased by 26 percent.

Missouri has suffered the most severe surge of the Delta variant. As of Thursday, 74.6 percent of all new coronavirus cases in the state are Delta.

The next highest caseload is in Nevada, where 44 percent are from the variant.

At the beginning of June, just 30 percent of Missouri’s cases involved Delta.

Audrain County’s vaccination levels are in line with others in the region. Monroe County reports a 31.4 percent full vaccination rate. Callaway County is at 32.1 percent. Ralls County lags at 21 percent.

Across the state, only Boone County (46 percent) and the St. Louis area (around 44 percent) approach half the population being fully vaccinated. Just over 38 percent of Kansas City residents have received complete doses.

For the moment, the health department is focusing on improving the county’s vaccination rate. There is no report of a mask advisory or mandate.

“What’s next for Audrain County is to continue to educate our population on the importance of getting a vaccine still,” Brace said. “The vaccine has shown great progress in minimizing hospitalizations of those that are getting sick and preventing death in those cases directly from COVID-19.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 58 deaths in Audrain County have been caused by the virus.


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