CHATHAM, Co. (WSAV)- When it comes to getting COVID-19 shots in enough arms, Georgia is losing the race. Data shows only about 16% of the peach state’s population is vaccinated, the lowest percentage in the state.
It’s been a month since everyone over the age of 16 became eligible for the COVID-19 shot. Health officials hoped demand would skyrocket, but instead, it plateaued.
“We’ve actually cut back on the amount of time we are spending being available to vaccinate,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Director of the Coastal Health District, “just because in the rural, more rural areas—we had nobody to vaccinate.”
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds rural Americans are twice as likely as people in urban areas to say they will “definitely not” get a COVID -19 shot.
Dr. Davis says vaccine hesitancy and issues of access are likely to blame for low demand in the Coastal Health District.
“I think we must just have a population that for whatever reason has decided to wait,” said Davis, “and they are reluctant or hesitant to take the vaccine.”
The reason could be political—according to a different Kaiser poll 58%t of rural Americans view getting vaccinated as a civil liberties issue and think it’s a personal choice, not a public responsibility.”
“I don’t think we can blame the system at large,” said Davis. “We need to figure out collectively how to encourage more of the population to go and get vaccinated.”
More than 1.7 million Georgians have achieved full vaccination status, which’s around 16.5% of the population.
Chatham County is slightly ahead of the state with close to 20% of it’s population vaccinated.
Davis says locally the 65 years and older age group is leading the county with more than 75% of them having already received their first dose.
“I think that’s wonderful,” said Davis. “That’s bordering on herd immunity in that age group.”