Scott and Rock Island counties see rise in COVID-19 vaccinations | Local News

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The start of school is just around the corner – signaling the eventual arrival of cooler weather, more indoor events, and the inevitable spread of viruses ranging from the common cold to COVID-19.

And while the heat of summer has been accompanied by the decrease and stability in COVID-19 cases across Rock Island and Scott counties, the number of people choosing to become fully vaccinated has shown steady growth.

According to numbers provided by the USCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, since roughly the middle of April 4,447 people from across the Quad-Cities have been fully vaccinated.

In Rock Island County the number of fully vaccinated rose from 82,453 on April 12 to 84,585 on Aug. 2. The latter number is 59.6% of the county’s population of 141,879.

The percent of the population of Scott County that has decided full vaccination is even larger – rising from 104,969 on April 12 to 107,284 by Aug. 2. All told, 62% of the county’s population of 172,943 is fully vaccinated.

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One of the forces driving the local vaccination numbers is the expansion of who is eligible to receive it. The CDC recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 6 months to 5 years old in the middle of June. While a Kaiser Family Foundation found 43% of parents of children under 5 in the US said they had no intention of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19, officials at the Rock Island Health Department are actively vaccinating children.

“…we are seeing between 25 to 30 kids in the 6 months to 4-year age group at our Wednesday clinics here,” said Rock Island Health Department Public Health Administrator Nita Ludwig. “This age group is seen by appointment only since they tend to take a little extra time and attention.”

Brooke Barnes, deputy director of the Scott County Health Department, agreed.

“As we have seen eligibility expand — including 6 months and up age group — we are seeing the number of vaccinated expand as well,” Barnes said,

“I think the responses towards vaccine for young children are what we expected. Some families were waiting a very long time for this opportunity and made sure to get their child vaccinated at the first possible chance. Other families chose to wait until the vaccine was available to have important conversations with their health care provider and we are grateful that they are using their provider as a resource.”

As fall and winter approach, health departments across the country are looking for new ways to reach those who have decided to not get vaccinated.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors Barnes outlined how the Scott County Health Department plans to launch a six-month digital campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.

Barnes said the county’s goal is to “reach diverse audiences through cable, internet, and some of the streaming services.”

“We are looking at populations that may have been more hesitant about the vaccinations and how we can partner with community leaders to reach out,” Barnes explained later in the week. “Some minority folks may have some concerns – concerns that well-founded from a historical standpoint. So part of what we hope to do is build trust with various portions of our broader community.”

Barnes asked the Board of Supervisors to approve the $27,840 digital ad campaign, which is paid for by federal public health preparedness and response funds earmarked for vaccine equity. Previously, the county health department put up billboard advertisements encouraging passing motorists to get vaccinated.

Vaccines for the Omicron BA.5 variant are expected this fall, according to the Associate Press. Pfizer and Moderna expect to have updated versions of their shots available as early as September.

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