WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Getting as many shots into arms as possible, that’s been the phrase health leaders have repeated endlessly since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available.
But over the last month, vaccination rates in Wichita County have slowed down. Mason Brighton took a look at how the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District is responding.
“We have more vaccines in house than we have individuals on our waiting list,” said , Lou Kreidler, Director of Health at the WC-WF Public Health District.
More shots than arms: it’s a problem happening across the country.
In the last few weeks, Wichita County health leaders said there has been a drastic decrease in appointments. Now, doses are left sitting in cold storage.
“None of our partners in town wanted to accept those vaccines because they are in the same position we are,” said Kreidler.
WF-WC Health District officials are not the only ones feeling the strain.
“Those drive-thru clinics that we held at J.S. Bridwell at first, when the vaccine came out we were doing six to seven hundred in a day and now we are getting maybe a 140,” said David Preston with the Community Healthcare Center.
It means everyone now has to think outside the box and look for new ways to get vaccines out.
“We reached out to the WFISD, we’ve reached out to New Jerusalem Baptist Church, we did the downtown festival,” said Preston.
“When we’ve reached out to those businesses that we’ve been to before, they don’t feel like they need us to come on site, that anyone who’s wanted to be vaccinated has been vaccinated,” said Kreidler.
Another obstacle is vaccine hesitancy. Currently, only about 30 percent of Wichita County is fully protected.
Kreidler reinforces that the shots do work. In the 65 and older age group, which is 60 percent fully vaccinated, hospitalizations and new cases have dramatically dropped.
“We just have to find a way to get individuals to want to be vaccinated, to want to understand that they do work and that this is our way back to a normal life,” said Kreidler.
Another reason some may be hesitant to get the shot is the protection they already have after recovering from COVID-19. Kreidler said that protection only lasts around three months, far shorter than what the vaccine can do.