COVID-19

In some parts of the country, vaccination rates lag

Sarah Whites-Koditschek May 21, 2021
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Mary Kate and Tim Pricop visit a horse racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with their children on a weekday afternoon. The couple plan to pass on getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Sarah Whites-Koditschek
COVID-19

In some parts of the country, vaccination rates lag

Sarah Whites-Koditschek May 21, 2021
Heard on:
Mary Kate and Tim Pricop visit a horse racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with their children on a weekday afternoon. The couple plan to pass on getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Sarah Whites-Koditschek
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It’s a weekday afternoon at a popular horse racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The park is big enough for thousands, but only about 100 people are here. Some squeeze together at a barricade to watch as horses approach the finish. 

Mary Kate Pricop is at the racetrack with her family. The horse she bet on, Take Charge Erica, just won, and the family cheers her on.

Pricop says she will pass on getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

I think there’s not enough study. We’re the guinea pigs, and I will pass on it,” she said.

About 20 miles away in Malvern, Arkansas, Dr. Shawn Purifoy said many of his patients are saying no to the shot. 

“I think it’s just out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “When people aren’t seeing all their co-workers or all their family and friends in the hospital, their sense of urgency goes down.”

Shelyn Davis is a longtime pharmacist at Community Care Pharmacy in Malvern, Arkansas. She says there was high demand for the shots early on, but now her customers are nonchalant about COVID-19 vaccines. (Photo by Sarah Whites-Koditschek)

President Joe Biden is setting a goal of 70% of all adults in the U.S. having at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4. But in some parts of the country, like Arkansas, where vaccination numbers are lagging, that could be a tough goal to meet.

Malvern’s Community Care Pharmacy has excess supply lately. Pharmacist Shelyn Davis is calling a list of customers these days to offer them the COVID-19 vaccine. About one person out of 25 agrees to come in. 

“A good 60% is just people thinking, ‘I gotta do that, but another day. I’ll do it another day,’” she said.

She said young people are the least interested.

“I’m pretty good at reading people,” she said. “If they close that subject real quick, I know they don’t want to talk about it. But if they open it up at all, I’m over there going, ‘We could do it real quick, I promise you.’”

Davis has started visiting a public housing complex in Malvern to offer vaccines. Resident Christine Martin said she is worried the vaccine is unsafe. 

“This COVID come out, and boom, here we are with the shots for it. I mean, come on now,” she said.  

Still, Martin decided to get her second dose of the Moderna vaccine so her son-in-law would let her grandson visit. 

“My love for my grandson is more than whatever is going to come out of this shot,” she said.

For now, demand has slowed, so pharmacist Davis has paused orders for new vaccine supply.

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