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Johnson & Johnson pause contributing to vaccine hesitancy in CSRA

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccines is throwing a wrench in health officials’ fight against vaccine hesitancy.

At first, we saw the health community really work to educate and get shots to hesitant minority communities. But there’s another group of people, our local experts say, they’re still working to convince.

It’s something that’s been said by most of our local health officials. There is vaccine hesitancy in rural predominantly white Republican areas, but it’s not just them, vaccinations overall are slowing down.

35-year-old Peter Chong finally booked the appointment. Today was his day to get the vaccine.

“I just kind of waited to see how other people, friends took it. People had the reactions you would expect. Once I got a consensus of what to expect, I felt comfortable,” he said.

His grandmother lives with him and he wants life to get back to normal. But he says he still has hesitant friends.

“They get the flu shot every year, but then they don’t want to get this shot,” he said.

Health officials didn’t know what to expect once everyone became eligible for the vaccine in both Georgia and South Carolina, but the reality is becoming clear.

“We have noticed a drop off in overall demand for appointments at our sites,” said Dr. Stephen Goggans, the director for DPH across the CSRA. “Part of the slacking demand at the larger sites is that people can get their shots in other locations.”

He says some appointments are starting to go unfilled. But he also believes there is less enthusiasm and more barriers to sign up especially in rural areas.

It’s why some vaccination sites are now allowing walk-ins.

An Associated Press study found 36 percent of Republicans said they would probably or definitely not get vaccinated to only 12 percent of Democrats.

“It’s going to take a little bit more in terms of outreach to try to educate those folks and make them aware of how to go through the process,” he said.

We pulled the vaccination numbers from our biggest four counties in Georgia.

18 percent of Richmond County is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, 21 percent of the population is fully vaccinated in both Columbia and Burke counties.

The county with the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated is in Lincoln County at 22 percent.

The lowest is 13 percent in McDuffie, Emanuel, and Glascock counties.

Something we also noticed is females are getting shots at higher rates in every single one of our Georgia counties.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control does not provide as detailed data as Georgia’s Department of Public Health, but we are reaching out to get these same figures for our South Carolina counties.

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