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Officials Hope the Region's COVID Vaccination Rates Will Increase

Rich Egger

The number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains below 50% in each county in the TSPR listening region. But local leaders hoped rates will increase now that the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine.

“We all want to get rid of this virus. We all want to stop wearing masks,” said Edgar Rodriguez, Director of the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency in McDonough County and the newly named Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for McDonough District Hospital.

“The more we as a community come together and vaccinate, the sooner we can put this behind us.”

Rodriguez said he got vaccinated as soon as he could.

Michele Ross, Administrator of the Lee County Health Department, also hoped the FDA approval will encourage more people to get vaccinated. But she said infection rates in Lee County have been troubling lately.

“According to our state data, we had 101 new positive tests reported in the last seven days,” she told TSPR on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

“That keeps us at a seven-day positivity rate of 8.3% right now. If we can recall back in the spring months, we were down below 2%. We’re definitely heading in the wrong direction here.”

She said getting vaccinated is the number one tool available to help prevent the spread of COVID -19, including the delta variant.

Listen to the interview with Michele Ross

Here are the current figures (as of Friday morning, August 27, 2021) on the percentage of people fully vaccinated in the region’s counties. The statistics come from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Iowa Vaccine Tracker, and the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard:

  • Knox County – 47.86%
  • Fulton County – 47.10%
  • Adams County – 44.00%
  • Brown County – 42.91%
  • Schuyler County - 41.36%
  • Des Moines County – 40.55%
  • McDonough County - 39.79%
  • Lee County – 39.29%**
  • Warren County – 39.48%
  • Van Buren County – 33.03%
  • Hancock County – 32.30%
  • Lewis county – 23.5%
  • Clark County – 23.2%
  • Henderson County – 22.52%
  • Scotland County – 20.7%
  • **Lee County’s own data shows 40.3% of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated

Edgar Rodriguez said McDonough County residents who want to get vaccinated should have no trouble doing so.
“Right now we are swimming in vaccines, not only at the hospital and the health department but also now we have HyVee, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart. These entities actually have the capacity to do that,” he said, adding there will be no trouble obtaining additional vaccines if needed.

Michele Ross said Lee County has the Pfizer vaccine available and will soon have more available.

“We have had some on hand because we were doing adolescent clinics prior to school starting (Pfizer is the only COVID vaccine that can be used by those ages 12-17),” she said.

“We will have more Pfizer vaccine on hand after the 30th (Monday, August 30) to continue trying to vaccinate those 12 and older.”

Ross said the Lee County Health Department holds vaccination clinics at its offices every Wednesday, Noon – 4:00 p.m. She said you can schedule an appointment by calling 319-372-5225. Walk-ins are also welcome.

In addition, a pop-up clinic will be held Thursday, September 2, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Southeastern Community College campus in Keokuk.

Ross said you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you wear a mask while in indoor public settings, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently.

She also urged those who feel ill to stay home so that they avoid the possibility of infecting others.

Meanwhile, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a mandate requiring all Illinois teachers, school staff, and college students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before September 5. The mandate will also apply to all of the state’s healthcare workers.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.