VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Local health leaders are working together to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates in Vigo County.
The Vigo County Health Department says just under 44% of the eligible population is vaccinated. According to the CDC, this is well below the national average of nearly 60%.
But now, vaccination rates are dropping across the nation, and COVID-19 cases are climbing once again. Data from CDC shows cases have doubled nationwide but also right here in the Wabash Valley.
"Our cases went up last week," Roni Elder, a health educator at the Vigo County Health Department, said. "We have been staying steady with under 20 cases, and last week, we had about 45 cases."
Health leaders say almost all of the cases are among unvaccinated individuals, many of which are younger and becoming sicker.
"You hear these people struggling to breathe, and you hear the pain they are going through," Ashlee Stewart, a health educator at the Vigo County Health Department, said. "Then I say, 'hey, have you gotten your vaccine' and they say, 'do you think I got my vaccine? I'm this sick.'"
Now the Vigo County Health Department is hoping to help more people by utilizing a new grant from the state.
Recently, the department was awarded more than $200,000. This is all in an effort to help reach more people and educate them about the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We believe education is most important at this point," Stewart said. "We need to get out and educate then people are going to say 'hey, this is real information. They have studies that prove this, so I feel more confident in getting it."
Local health leaders say the grant will be used primarily for replacing misinformation with real facts and data. This includes sharing brochures, banners, and social media posts with the community.
They say the vaccine is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe, especially during a new surge in cases.
"People are tired of hearing the message of wearing your mask, distancing, and getting your vaccine," Dr. Darren Brucken, the Vigo County Health Commissioner, said. "If we can utilize the grant to freshen that message a little bit and maybe touch a few more people, I think that that can be of some benefit. If we can sway one person's mind, maybe that one person can sway the mind of another."
If you or someone you know is still interested in getting the shot, the Vigo County Health Department is available for both walk-ins and appointments. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM and again from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.