Unvaccinated Shawnee County residents accounted for 86% of COVID-19 cases in June
Shawnee County reported 176 COVID-19 cases in June. Of those cases, unvaccinated people accounted for 86%, or 151 cases.
From the start of vaccine availability to July 7, only 0.08% of people — or 64 — have been infected with COVID-19 after getting vaccinated in Shawnee County, according to data provided by the health department.
“It’s definitely a preventable disease at this point,” said Derik Flerlage, infectious disease division manager at the Shawnee County Health Department.
Five people died from COVID-19 in June. One of those people was vaccinated and died from the Delta variant. That is the only death of a fully vaccinated person in Shawnee County.
The 176 cases in June are lower than some weekly totals in fall 2020 and early 2021. Cases steadily decreased as vaccinations became available, but infections have plateaued as the number of people getting vaccinated plateaus.
Low demand for vaccinations caused the mass vaccine clinic at the Stormont Vail Event Center to close weeks before its contracted end date.
Vaccines can be found at VaccineFinder.org.
Flerlage said the county is in a “gray area” as recent COVID-19 case counts slightly increased. According to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard, there were 87 positive cases between June 25-July 6.
Both weeks in the roughly two-week period would have “low” case counts if it was measured by the health department’s now, not-publicly available COVID-19 indicator, but both weeks represent an increase from weeks of minuscule case counts.
Flerlage said the department will continue to monitor the virus’ spread and said the slight uptick doesn’t yet represent a long-term trend. He said vaccinations are the key to stopping variants and ending the pandemic, but both vaccine hesitancy and inability to access to vaccines have stopped the county from reaching the 70-80% vaccination goal.
The health department did host a vaccine clinic at the Salvation Army, 1320 S.E. 6th Ave., trying to address vaccine disparities by zip code. It is taking its “show on the road” and bringing vaccination events to the community.
The department is launching a community request, which allows the people to host vaccine events “where they think it is most important.”
“We want that opportunity for people to make vaccine available where they think it can be most important,” Flerlage said. “They know their neighborhoods the best.”
More information on the program will be released Monday. Vaccine information is available on the health department’s website, and Flerlage encouraged everyone to get vaccinated even though COVID-19 cases remain low.
“Get the vaccine for your family, for your neighbors, for your kids (and) for your parents and grandparents,” he said. “We get asked a lot, ‘If I already had COVID, or if numbers are down, why bother with the vaccine?’ It's really because we have so many that can’t be vaccinated."