Last week, all U.S. adults 16 and older became eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines in accordance with the Biden administration’s April 19 deadline for nationwide eligibility.
Three days later, the CDC reported that as of April 22 one third of U.S. adults over 18 were fully vaccinated, and more than half had gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
While this news is encouraging as a whole, rural vaccination rates are lagging behind urban vaccination rates in most states. Currently, about one in four rural residents is completely vaccinated against Covid-19, a proportion 10% lower than that of urban areas.
Below, Daily Yonder readers share their rural vaccine stories.
I live in Richmond, Kentucky. Our Walgreens offers vaccination appointments but they weren’t yet serving my age group. I asked the pharmacist to put me on a waiting list to receive a vaccine when there was an appointment cancelation and I was able to get one a few days later. Last week, I was able to easily make my second appointment at a local Walgreens. It’s becoming even easier as walk-in clinics are starting to open up for anyone over the age of 16.
All of the adults on our farm in eastern Colorado were able to find Moderna shots within an hour drive, even though our local hospital and clinic have been struggling to have their orders for vaccines filled. The issue with getting my 16 year old a dose was that she’s only eligible for Pfizer, and nobody within two and half hours of us has the equipment to keep it on hand.
Carter County, Tennessee
Fortunately, I was able to register on the Tennessee Department of Health site for a vaccine through our county health department. Initially, I received a message that I would have to wait until my age group, but when that opened in Tennessee (55+) I got a message with instructions for making an appointment. After I registered, I got an email with directions to the location—the health department is using an old business building that houses part of a community college—and a QR code to show when I arrived. The wait time was negligible, the person who gave the shot was great, and an Army reservist was directing people to parking to wait the 15 minutes post-inoculation.
Scheduling the second shot was a bit problematic. The website wasn’t very cooperative when I tried to register and I called the Carter County Health Department. A very nice lady went into the registration site from their side, and, after providing my information (name, address, date, etc.) I was registered for a second shot. I received Pfizer which required only three weeks between vaccines. I ended up with a four week wait but learned that the window for second doses is actually 3-6 weeks—so I was all ok.
I did not have any sort of reaction or side effects from the vaccine. My arm was sore for about 24 hours, but I experienced nothing else. In fact, I trimmed shrubbery and mowed some that afternoon.
All in all this was a fairly easy process and I am hopeful that more folks will take advantage of getting the Covid vaccine. I plan on wearing a mask when out, per health care recommendations. However, I no longer feel as if I have to run through stores in track shoes to get out quickly.
Denise LeBlanc Fisher
Rockport, Texas is a nice quiet town on the coast. We have had a few pop-up vaccine clinics and our first responders got the first few rounds of vaccines, as they should. Then the 65-and-up crowd got theirs at Rockport Beach. Notices went out about how many vaccines were left over and appointments were opened up to any adult in the community. None went unused.
The next pop-ups happened at Fulton Convention Center, a place locals know as the original Paws & Taws Square Dance Club, and recently at ACDC (the county detention center, not the band) where both prisoners and community members received shots. All you had to do was call to get on the list.
Another batch of vaccines is being given to the elderly who are getting meals on wheels. It has been nice to see everyone playing by the rules and letting those who need the shots most be first in line.
Mona Dauphine Savoie
My local pharmacy has a phone prompt set up to sign up for vaccine appointments. As soon as I was eligible I was called and had an appointment the next day.
Additionally, the biggest hospital in the biggest city in my area, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, has a convention center setup. Appointments are by phone or online and I hear the operation runs like charm.
This same hospital is coming to rural areas and setting up in churches and community centers. All is good.