Area residents encouraged to get vaccinated

Angie Talken
Chillicothe News

While Livingston County Health Center officials describe there being a "downward" in the number of new COVID cases in Livingston County, deaths and hospitalizations are still occurring, city, county and health center officials are encouraging area residents to get vaccinated. 

With the health center reporting four deaths last week alone, which Ann Burchett, public information supervisor for the health center said was still a lot, there is still a definite need for protecting one's self and the community as a whole. 

"There are many differing views of the pandemic and its implications; one thing we can all agree on is the importance of keeping our community safe. We need everybody’s help to do that," Livingston County Presiding Commissioner Ed Douglas said in a statement. 

In Livingston County, 39% of Livingston County residents over age 18 are vaccinated. And 67% of those over 65 are vaccinated. Making Livingston County 20th in the state of Missouri for vaccinations.

According to a New York Times COVID tracker for Livingston County on June 28, which Burchett noted as being a valid in-depth source of information, "An average of four cases per day were reported in Livingston County, a 62 % decrease from the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least one in seven residents have been infected, a total of 2,135 reported cases. Right now, Livingston County is at extremely high risk for unvaccinated people."

Douglas also noted numerous state and national sources stating that unvaccinated people accounted for 99% of current COVID deaths. "If everyone would get the vaccine we would be in good shape," he said. "While there may be some exceptions, studies show that vaccines are effective in preventing Covid-19. Our county’s best shot at combating the pandemic is to get the majority of our residents vaccinated."

"As more people in our community become vaccinated against Covid-19, the virus will have fewer people to infect and transmission will naturally go down," the statement from city, state, hospital and health center officials said. "Every person that gets vaccinated brings us one step closer to defeating this virus."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, a person is not considered fully vaccinated until "Two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. 

The website goes onto say, "If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated."

Burchett said that when the federal government began to loosen some requirements, many unvaccinated people stopped taking precautions. 

"Personally, I think people have gone back to pre-COVID life and that is part of the reason our cases exploded like they did.  Once the federal government started saying, 'It's over, we can go back to doing the things we love..." people just took it as following zero precautions.  And the CDC's guidance of "IF YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED" you can do this, this and this...no one caught the part about being fully vaccinated," she said. 

Douglas said, "Those who are unvaccinated, high risk or concerned are encouraged to wear a mask and social distance."

"Whether you have had COVID or not, you need to get vaccinated.  The vaccine response is greater than any natural immunity you might have, and these variants that keep coming through are "different" viruses than what they had," Burchett said. "Variants will continue to form and circulate.  Delta variant was responsible for the outbreak we had in late May and early June and those numbers exceeded the height of the pandemic locally."

In an effort to encourage resident to get vaccinated, Burchett said there are plans, through a national grant the health center received, to do a promotional campaign in July, which with CDC approval will allow the health center to give a gift card, T-shirt and other items to adults who have already gotten their vaccine or who do in July. 

There are many locations to receive the vaccine for free including the Livingston County Health Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., at Hedrick Medical Center, and all local pharmacies. For more info on where to find a location to get the Covid-19 vaccine near you, go to vaccines.gov.

The recent decline in reporting of new cases can be attributed to, "Many of our county residents and businesses continue to be vigilant about preventive measures and subsequently, we are seeing a decline in numbers," Douglas said. "But getting vaccinated is still important, and that is really what we want to encourage people to do, get vaccinated."