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'Get Out The Vax' Campaign Falls Short Of 80% Goal, Impacted By Misinformation

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The "Get Out The Vax" campaign managed to get 57% of the 15-county region vaccinated for COVID-19, short of its goal of 80%. And much like the rest of the country, the vaccination rate between urban and rural counties is uneven.

One month into the campaign, the region went from 35% of the eligible population vaccinated to 52%. Those numbers then stalled and levelled off but are expected to reach 60% this week.

Christa Hyson is the assistant director for emergency response and public information officer for the Health Collaborative. She says the number one obstacle the campaign had was misinformation.

"It's kind of disheartening how health professionals are not taken seriously," Hyson said. "If ever there is a time to lead with science, public health professionals, evidence-based practices through years and years of research, why isn't that trusted? Why is social media and public outcry dictating health policy?"

An NPR analysis in March found that articles linking vaccines and death were amongst the highest engaged content online this year. On top of that, other things led to a drop in vaccinations after the first month, mostly related to supply and demand as production of vaccines ramped up.

"Now that we have more vaccines than willing arms, we are running into that issue where we just don't have people that are interested," Hyson said.

So far, none of the three states in the region have achieved 50% of the population receiving their first doses and many of the counties are below 40%. Urban counties in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky can be found at above 50%, including Hamilton, Warren, Boone, Kenton and Campbell.

However, rural counties are typically behind, some even dipping below 30%, including Adams and Highland. Hyson says the key to getting more vaccines into arms is connecting with the existing partnerships in those areas.

"You can't just go into a community and be like, 'Here's your solution.' You need to work with the individuals that live there, that work there, that know the population and know what to react to," Hyson said.

Concerns surrounding the Delta variant include its ability to spread quickly. It's currently infecting at least 1 out of every 5 people who get the virus in the United States. Studies are showing that vaccines are effective against the variant, including the Moderna vaccine.

President Joe Biden set a July 4 goal of his own of 70% of adults vaccinated, however that fell short by 3%. Currently, 67% of adult Americans have gotten either the first shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Including teenagers aged 12-17, the national percentage of those who have gotten at least one shot is 64%.