COVID-19 vaccinations slow in Kansas, Missouri; hesitancy high in Missouri

Virus Outbreak Missouri
Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 11:40:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After reaching record levels during the first few weeks of April, the number of COVID-19 vaccinations tapered off for the week of April 12-18 — in some cases significantly — in Kansas and Missouri, according to data from state health departments.

One week after reporting a record number of first-dose vaccinations and completed vaccinations, Missouri saw steep declines for the week ending April 18.

There were 211,444 Missourians who initiated COVID-19 vaccination the week ending April 11 and 203,524 Missourians who completed the vaccination process — both single-week records based on data reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

But there was a substantial drop off last week.

Missouri’s state health department reported that 176,122 first doses were administered, a 16.7% decrease, and 165,547 vaccinations were completed, a 19.2% drop, for the week ending April 18.

It’s unclear how much impact, if any, the pause on administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines had on last week’s drop, but the Missouri Hospital Association released worrisome data about general vaccine hesitancy.

While the state opened vaccinations to all residents age 16 and older on April 9, a new poll suggests it might be hard for Missouri to reach herd immunity based on hesitancy among certain cross sections of residents.

Roughly 54% of adults in Missouri have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Missouri Hospital Association, or MHA, but nearly three in 10 of adults in the state do not ever plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a poll of 800 Missourians conducted by American Viewpoint in April 2021, 20% of Missouri adults are “not at all likely” and 8% are “not too likely” to get vaccinated.

That’s more than 770,000 Missouri residents who don’t plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The good news for health officials and vaccine advocates is that the percentage of people who were least likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped since January 2021, when 27% were “not at all likely” and 11% were “not too likely” to get vaccinated.

Hesitancy is highest among the uninsured (52%), people who identify as “very conservative” (51%), white evangelicals (38%) and the Black community (33%).

MHA hopes to combat vaccine hesitancy through increased education.

“Ultimately, the more information residents have regarding the vaccine, the more likely they are to be vaccinated,” MHA said in an explainer accompanying the poll result. “This information is best communicated by providers, especially their primary care physicians.”

The poll found that people who make less than $50,000 (41%), non-college graduates (37%), Republicans (35%) and people who identify as somewhat conservative (33%) were the least informed about the COVID-19 vaccine among those polled.

Only 8% of adults in Missouri are “very likely” and another 8% “somewhat likely” to get vaccinated.

“Since early vaccination eligibility was risk-based, many of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated,” MHA President and CEO Mike Kuhn said. “However, only 23% of all Missourians — or 44% of those ages 18 or older — have completed their vaccination process. To reach herd immunity, a much larger share of Missourians must participate in the process. That will require all stakeholders working together to understand the barriers and get the message out.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment also reported a drop last week in the number of new vaccinations.

Kansas, which set a single-week record with 117,865 first doses administered for the week ending April 4, reported only 65,677 first doses for the week ending April 18.

The good news is that completed vaccinations remained relatively steady. While the number of first doses has dropped more than 34.6% in the last week alone, the number of completed vaccinations only dropped 1.1% from 91,031 for week ending April 11 to 90,066 last week.