PLATTE CITY, Mo. — Health leaders in Platte County, Missouri, are working to increase vaccination rates as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 30.7% of people in Platte County have initiated vaccination. Meanwhile, 27.7% of people have completed vaccination.
Platte County Health Department director, Mary Jo Vernon, contested those numbers and said a more accurate picture of people eligible for vaccinations can be found with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, in Platte County, 48% of people 12 and over are fully vaccinated. People 18 and over are 50% vaccinated.
Vernon said she would like better numbers, but said fear and misinformation are barriers to getting more people vaccinated.
"You know some of the information that folks believe is just not accurate," Vernon said. "You know like the vaccine is going to change your DNA. That's not possible, that's your genetic code that you were born with. So, there's a lot of misinformation out there."
The department is focusing not just on education, but also access to vaccines.
Vernon said people have a choice among Moderna, Pfizer or the Johnson and Johnson vaccines at their Parkville location on Monday through Friday's.
If people can't come to the health department, Vernon said the department can make visits too.
"A few weeks ago, we took a team of nurses and went to Weston," Vernon said. "That area had a lower vaccination rate, so we went there."
One Platte County resident not getting the vaccine is Gena Ross.
Ross was hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020.
"I felt like a goldfish in a zip lock baggy," Ross said. "No water, no air. Just gasping for air. I didn't know if I was going to make it."
Ross said she still suffers from long term impacts of the virus and said her daughter's reaction to the Pfizer vaccine only added to her concerns.
"She got the first dose and as sick as she got and had to go to the hospital in Louisiana," Ross said. "I know, I'm her mother and I know my allergies and sensitivities to medications and things."
The CDC recommends people who've had COVID-19 should get vaccinated.
The agency explains it's not known how long people are protected from getting sick again after recovering from the virus. They add it's possible although rare, that a person could be re-infected.
Ross said she's exercising her personal choice that includes plenty of protections.
"I still wear a mask. I still social distance. I still use hand sanitizer. Everything that we did when we started opening back up," Ross said. "So, I try to protect me and be mindful of other people too."
People interested in getting vaccinated are asked to schedule an appointment by calling the Platte County Health Department Parkville office at (816)-587-5998, then pressing one.