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Vaccine Hesitancy Prolongs The Fight Against COVID-19 In Texas

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Rates
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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AP
Licensed practical nurse Yokasta Castro, of Warwick, R.I., draws a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a mass vaccination clinic, Wednesday, May 19, 2021, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. A month after every adult in the U.S. became eligible for the vaccine, a distinct geographic pattern has emerged: The highest vaccination rates are concentrated in the Northeast, while the lowest ones are mostly in the South.

Allison Winnike, president & CEO of the Immunization Partnership, talked to KERA's Justin Martin about COVID-19 vaccinations in Texas.

As COVID-19 cases go down and vaccine availability goes up, some Texans still refuse to get a vaccine.

Scientists and doctors stress that vaccines are safe and effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. The CDC said no one has died from the COVID vaccines. Some people may experience short-term side effects, but typically those subside quickly.

Allison Winnike heads up the Texas-based non-profit Immunization Partnership and she joined KERA's Justin Martin to talk about the latest news surrounding COVID vaccines.

The Current State Of Vaccinations In Texas:

If you look across the country, about 37% of all Americans are fully vaccinated, but in Texas, only 33% of Texans are fully vaccinated. And when you look down to Dallas County, it's slightly less, about 32% of Dallas County residents are fully vaccinated.

So that's the bad news, that not enough people are vaccinated.

Just if you look at Dallas County alone, that 68% of Dallas County residents who were vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 because they're not fully immunized.

On Reasons People Give For Not Getting Vaccinated:

People are still concerned that the vaccine was created rather quickly.

On the one hand, I can tell you that even though it was a brand new virus, a novel coronavirus, and there are new vaccines. The technology for these vaccines has been in development for decades. So in that sense, it really isn't new.

And as far as their approval and emergency use authorization from the FDA, these are the same clinical trials that all of our other vaccines go through.

We just continue and continue to collect new data, showing how safe and effective these vaccines are.

What Groups Are More Hesitant:

It's actually been changing over time during the pandemic. So earlier on in the pandemic, a lot of the demographic data showed that we had quite high hesitancy numbers in communities of color, particularly in Black communities, as well as in Hispanic communities.

Those numbers have been shifting a bit, we've seen increase rates in supportiveness for the vaccines and increased rates of those communities of colors, getting vaccinated, which is really, really great news.

Some of the more recent data that is coming out is showing continued high hesitancy rates in our white population in Texas. And then kind of breaking that down a little bit more, some polls have done the breakdown along political lines or religious lines.

Some evangelical Christian groups have a higher hesitancy rate. And also some that self-identify as more conservative, we're also seeing a higher hesitancy rate against the COVID-19 vaccine as well.

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at Jmartin@kera.org. You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

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