EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The East Grand Rapids school district now has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, according to data collected by the Kent County Health Department.
“It’s enormous and I have not heard of any area in the state that has a higher rate,” Administrative Health Officer Adam London said.
According to the county, 95% of people age 12 to 17 in East Grand Rapids are vaccinated and 96% of people over 16 in the district have gotten their shots.
“East Grand Rapids, Ada Township, Cascade, some areas in the suburbs and around Grand Rapids are doing really well. The vaccine coverage rates are in excess of 80%, even 90%,” London said. “I credit that to the access to information and to clinics and the vaccine, along with the support of local leaders in those communities who are echoing the messages that we’ve been sharing about the severity of COVID, the importance and effectiveness of the vaccine and how important it is to protect our community.”
As a result, students at East Grand Rapids schools will be allowed to go without masks this fall.
While the health department says it is celebrating the success in East Grand Rapids, there are a number of communities where there’s work to be done.
Kent City, which is about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids, has the lowest vaccination rate in the county. The health department says in the Kent City Community district, only 22% of people age 12 to 17 and 49% of people over 16 have been vaccinated.
“Some of the area in the inner urban core or some of the more rural areas are lagging behind a little bit. There are different reasons depending on where we’re looking at and we are working with those communities to better understand what are their obstacles,” London said.
The county says it is working to expand outreach and send better messaging to help meet state goals of at least 70% vaccination across the board.
“The reality is people who live and go to school in a place like East Grand Rapids are going to be far safer than people in other communities where we see much lower vaccine rates,” London said.
The Kent County Health Department says it is still recommending people heed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and wear masks in indoor public spaces where community spread is high.