KC-area health officials voice concerns about Delta COVID-19 variant

Metro groups try to increase vaccinations
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 00:20:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Kansas City-area doctors are concerned as Missouri sees the fastest growing number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the country.

With the Delta variant spreading rapidly, the push to vaccinate more people against the virus is shifting into another gear.

The KCMO Health Department reported that about 41% of residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. The department also said the Delta variant is 66% more transmissible and those who contract it are twice as likely to get severely sick than with the original variant.

"The Delta variant is forecasted now in the next several weeks to be the dominant strain in the U.S.," Dr. Steven Stites, with the University of Kansas Health System, said. "It appears to be affecting these outbreaks in Southwestern and Northwestern Missouri, and the story again, if you're not vaccinated the variants are here, trouble is at your doorstep."

To help increase vaccination numbers in the city's underserved communities, places like Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in KCMO have held regular vaccination clinics since January.

"We are begging you to come," Pastor John Miles said. "Don't take that chance. Please don't take that chance."

He said he has noticed that demand has dropped since they first started administering vaccines.

"One of the things that I, we, are expressing is that we are asking the parent to get the young people in, the teenagers in from 12 up," Miles said.

And he's not alone. Local Investment Commission (LINC), a metro nonprofit, is helping the church and other organizations distribute the vaccines and also have noticed fewer people rolling up their sleeves.

"Now I feel like we've moved on to a different segment of the population, where people are still a little bit nervous or wondering about the vaccine whether or not they should get it," Jeff Hill, LINC supervisor, said.

Doctors said that vaccines protects against the Delta variant and help shield the person and those around them from getting sick. It's why Miles is keeping the faith and said he hopes more people will get vaccinated.

"The families need them. We need them in the communities," Miles said. "So we are excited that we are providing vaccines to so many, so many."