WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita County saw its 122nd COVID-19 related death of 2021 this week as the White House pushes the “We Can Do This” campaign.
It’s all part of President Biden’s goal to get 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4th.
Here in Wichita County, Lou Kreidler with the health district said only 40% of those eligible have been fully or partially vaccinated so far.
Local health leaders, along with those in the Biden administration, hope to see those numbers grow in June, but still, not everyone is convinced the vaccine is safe.
Biden has declared June a “National Month of Action” to take aim at the coronavirus pandemic, urging Americans to roll up their sleeves.
“At the end of the day we recognize that it’s a personal choice to get vaccinated,” Kreidler said.
But still, local health leaders are doing everything they can to educate Texomans on why they believe getting vaccinated is the best option.
“For individuals 12 and up, overall for the county, 40% of those have been vaccinated,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler said in order to achieve herd immunity, the county needs to have at least 70% of the population vaccinated.
Right now more than 44,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We do need to be doing better. For our population over 65, 72% of those have been vaccinated,” Kreidler said.
In the State of Texas, with a population of 29 million, almost 13 million people have gotten at least one dose of the shot, but folks are still skeptical, like this resident who wanted to remain anonymous.
“I think that they rolled out the vaccine way too quickly. I understand the emergency need, but normally it takes nine [to] ten years for a vaccine, they get it in ten months.”
U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, said it’s important to ask lingering questions and get them answered.
“What we have learned over the last several months is that the vaccine represents the quickest, most effective way for us to get through this pandemic, to save lives, to get back to a way of life,” Murthy said.
But this resident believes there are still a lot of unknowns.
“I have three autoimmune diseases, they didn’t test out on a wide variety of people that have the same diseases as me.”
“We’ve administered nearly 300 million doses in the United States alone and with all of those administrations, what we found is that the safety profile of the vaccines remains really strong and they are remarkably effective,” Murthy said.
As the White House hopes to boost COVID vaccination rates, Murthy said they are trying to knock down as many barriers as possible to make it easier for people to get vaccinated.
“You can go to vaccines.gov, you can find a place near you, we have now with this month of action that we’ve launch extended pharmacy hours as well and free rides and free babysitting,” Murthy said.
While deaths and hospitalizations across the country are trending down, and this is so for Wichita County, we are not out of the woods just yet.
“It really is one of the most important things you can do right now, to protect yourself, to protect people in your community and to help your country turn this pandemic around,” Murthy said.
And for people concerned about breakthrough cases, Murthy wants to emphasize while the vaccine is highly effective, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine having a 90% efficacy rate, that is still not 100%.
“So that means a very small percentage of people will actually be at risk of getting the virus and getting sick even if they’ve been vaccinated, but it’s a very small percentage. we live in a world where nothing is 100% but what we know is the vaccine dramatically reduces your risk of infection,” Murthy said.
Kreidler and Murthy hope Texomans will do their part in protecting the community and the country.
Kreidler encourages those vaccinated or not to continue following safety precautions because she said Wichita County sees a large amount of community spread cases.
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