Calhoun County lags in vaccination rates, officials concerned

COVID-19 Vaccine

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Calhoun County Health Department is calling for more people to get vaccinated as the area lags behind other major metro areas in West Michigan.  

Eric Pessell, the health officer for the county, says his department is trying to make the process as easy as possible and working to combat misinformation on social media. Many clinics in the county no longer require an appointment. 

“We’ve transitioned to outdoor drive-thru, various times of the day, various times of the week,” Pessell said. 

Pessell wants people to know the area has not reached herd immunity and is at risk of another spike in cases if more people do not roll up their sleeves. 

“The more a virus spreads from person to person, the more opportunity the virus has to mutate. And if get to a situation where the virus mutates enough that our vaccines are no longer effective, then we’re back to square one,” Pessell said. 

The county is seeing younger populations in urban areas with a lower participation rate, along with people living in rural areas.  

“It’s basically from 16-year-old all the way up,” Pessell said. “It’s just not good enough.” 

The state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard shows as of May 27, Muskegon County had 51.4% of its population with at least one dose. In Montcalm County, the number is 39.9%.  

Kent County has 57.7% with one dose. Ottawa County is at 54.8% and Ionia County has reached 45%.

Kalamazoo County has the highest percentage in West Michigan at 58.1%, but just to the east, Calhoun County has a rate of 45.6%. Branch County has 39.9% with one dose, roughly tied with Montcalm County for the lowest vaccination rate in our area.  

Calhoun County is refocusing its effort on reaching people through their doctor, hoping that relationship can help improve the numbers. 

“If they will take the time and listen, we can educate them and maybe turn them around,” Pessell said. 

For more information on the vaccine and how to locate a vaccination site, you can visit the Calhoun County Health Department website.

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