COVID-19 vaccine reluctance in Bartholomew County has declined markedly in the first six months of the year, although about 1 in 4 residents still report being on the fence or not getting away. will certainly not get vaccinated, according to a new data tool.
The online tool, published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is based on surveys conducted via Facebook and offers insight into the number of people in and around Columbus who may be hesitant – or outright refuse – to roll up their sleeves and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the first week of January, about 52% of Bartholomew County respondents expressed some hesitation about getting vaccinated, the data shows. That number had fallen to around 25% of respondents by the end of June.
The data also suggests that about 9% of unvaccinated Bartholomew County residents might be open to getting the vaccine, although 16% – about 1 in 6 – said during the last week of June that ‘they certainly would not get vaccinated if they were offered a vaccine.
As of Friday morning, about 46.8% of the total Bartholomew County population was fully vaccinated by Thursday morning, including about 55.6% of those eligible, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
However, most infectious disease experts agree that around 70% to 80% of the total population will need to be fully vaccinated to stop the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
According to the researchers, the purpose of the data tool is to help health officials and policy makers geographically target vaccination efforts where they could have the most impact.
Dr Brian Niedbalski, Bartholomew County Health Officer, who also practices family medicine at MyCare Family Med, said the estimated drop in local reluctance to vaccination is “encouraging” and hopes less reluctance will result in more people getting vaccinated.
“In my personal practice, I detected a little less hesitation about the vaccine,” Niedbalski said. “It’s encouraging to see these percentages countywide as well. Hopefully there will be some laggards at the vaccination party who choose to go ahead and get the vaccination.
The vaccine reluctance data also shows some differences within Bartholomew County, with respondents living in more rural areas of the county sometimes being more likely to express reluctance to vaccinate than those living closer to the boundaries of Bartholomew. the city of Columbus.
For example, about 1 in 3 respondents, or 34%, living in zip code 47246, which is located in and around the town of Hope, expressed some hesitation during the week of June 25, according to the latest data. most recent on save.
In comparison, 19.6% of those surveyed living in ZIP code 47203 expressed hesitation, as did 27.5% of those living in ZIP code 47201, who represent residents of Columbus.
The data also shows drastic differences between Bartholomew County and some neighboring counties, including Jackson County, where about 49% of respondents expressed hesitation – the highest of any county in the state.
In Jennings County, about 1 in 3 respondents said they were on the fence or definitely would not get the shot.
The hesitation figures also reflect vaccination rates.
Just over 61% of eligible people in zip code 47203 were fully vaccinated as of Thursday morning, as were nearly 58% of those in zip code 47201, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
But only 43% of people in the Hartsville area, 42% in the Hope area and 35% in and around Elizabethtown and Azalia were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to state records.
About 40% of Jackson County residents were fully immunized by Friday, as were nearly 31% of Jennings County residents.
The release of the data tool comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is becoming “an unvaccinated pandemic,” the Associated Press reported .
COVID-19 cases in the United States have increased by about 70% over the past week, while hospitalizations have increased by 36% and deaths have increased by 26%, the CDC said. Almost all hospital admissions and deaths are among the unvaccinated.
And the federal government expects cases to increase in the coming weeks due to the spread in communities with low vaccination rates.
Locally, health officials say people have given several different reasons why they choose not to be vaccinated, including, among other things, that the injections have not been studied long enough, the vaccine is not. not fully approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and concerns about possible side effects.
Some people just say “I’ll just take a chance” against a virus that has sickened at least 19,634 people in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties, sent 4,180 people to hospital emergency rooms and killed at least 418 people.
Health experts from across the country have stressed that vaccines are safe and come under the same “rigorous” safety and efficacy standards as all other vaccines.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said in May that they had started the process to apply for full FDA approval for their COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA granted emergency use authorization for the vaccines after independently reviewing the safety and efficacy data from vaccine trials.
“I am encouraged that as a county we have vaccinated 55% of the eligible population,” Niedbalski said. “It’s the top 10 in the state. There is hope that we can move that number a little higher as the vaccine is now available in primary care offices. “
Currently, vaccination efforts in Bartholomew County are turning to primary care offices as Columbus Regional Health prepares to close its stand-alone clinic near the Columbus Hospital campus, where authorities have administered at least 41,430 vaccine doses – enough to fully immunize 20,715 people.
Local health officials are optimistic that moving vaccinations to primary care offices will allow more people to hear the “unpoliticized scientific truth” about vaccine safety and allay concerns they may have, said Dr. Raymond Kiser, medical director of hospital care. CRH doctors.
“There is already good data that suggests that people who are hesitant for whatever reason will respond much better to counseling and talking with a health care provider to somehow explain their concerns,” Kiser said.
“I still think there are people (nationwide) who want to get vaccinated but it’s just difficult for them because of transportation issues, because of work issues,” Kiser added. “… For Columbus, I think most people got access to the vaccine if they wanted to. “
How to register for vaccination
Hoosiers aged 12 and over can receive a COVID-19 vaccine; persons under the age of 18 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only. To find a vaccination clinic near you, visit https://ourshot.in.gov or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or need assistance. Appointments are preferred, but appointments are accepted on most sites.