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Vaccine rates in rural communities increase

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - As the delta variant takes hold throughout the Shenandoah Valley, vaccine rates continue to lag in rural communities, the Virginia Department of Health said.

However, the Central Shenandoah Health District says while rates of infection may be up, so are rates of vaccination.

“While that might just be one or two points at a time, it’s still so significant because we know that every single vaccine counts,” said CSHD Communications Specialist Jordi Shelton.

The department reports people in metro areas are 16% more likely to have received their first dose than someone in a rural area, and Shelton says the increased rate of infection may play a role in increased vaccinations.

“The chances of you knowing someone who’s become seriously ill, because the delta variant is much more transmissible, they’re higher. Folks might need to feel like they know someone personally affected to really get that messaging home, which is unfortunate, but that could also be contributing to the rise in vaccinations that we’re seeing,” Shelton said.

She says lower vaccination rates in rural communities could be attributed to many things: longer travel times to vaccine drives, less access to technology or internet or lack of public transportation.

Shelton says mindset plays a role sometimes, too.

“It’s important for folks in these communities to remember that while they might be in more rural or sparsely populated communities that covid-19 is still present,” Shelton said.

For more on vaccines in the CSHD, visit their website.

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