Rural counties falling behind urban areas in vaccinations

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 10:10 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2021 at 9:42 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County has the highest fully vaccinated percentage in the state at 52 percent. But, for some rural parts of the state, they’re more than 20 percent below that. The West Central Health District which includes North Platte is only 28 percent vaccinated.

It’s a growing issue some health directors are looking to fix. The Four Corners Health Director said it’s getting a lot harder to push the vaccine because those who want it likely already have it.

“It’s all a choice and I made that choice,” said Seward resident Jerry Glaser.

Jerry Glaser has lived in Seward since 1999. He said he had a stroke back in 2005 and is one of tens of thousands in the Four Corners Health Department District to not get vaccinated.

“The wife and I did [have a discussion] and she said no,” said Glaser. “She said you’re doing fine just stay active and stuff like that.”

The urban areas of the state have the highest percentage of fully vaccinated people. Lincoln-Lancaster is at the top, followed by Douglas at 50 percent and Sarpy-Cass at 46 percent.

More rural health districts including Four Corners Public Health Solutions and Southeast fall between 40-41 percent, an over 10 percent drop off from Lancaster County.

“We still have people that we can get the numbers up so we’re going to keep working at it and I’d like to do better,” said Four Corners health director Laura McDougall.

McDougall said it’s especially important to push vaccines, knowing more variants, including the Delta variant, are in Nebraska.

“We’ve just in the last week had about five Deltas sequenced here in our district,” said McDougall.

The Four Corners Health District’s focus has shifted from pushing everyone to get the vaccine to just those who are on the fence about it.

McDougall said until vaccinated percentages rise, Nebraska will continue seeing hot spots for transmission.

The Four Corners Health Director said she’s mainly focusing on the younger age groups, in hopes that children will get their COVID vaccines before the beginning of the school year.

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