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Grant County health officials working to increase vaccination rate

Grant County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, and local health officials say the problem doesn't have a simple solution.

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. — Grant County Health Department officials are working to raise the county's COVID-19 vaccination rate, which is among the state's lowest, as the county reports a new case right of about 318.

As of May 1, Grant County is behind the state average when it comes to vaccination rates for both those with one COVID-19 shot, and for those fully vaccinated. About 29 percent of Grant County residents have received at least one shot, much lower than the state's average of almost 44 percent. The gap narrows when it comes to full vaccination, but Grant County's rate of 24 percent is still behind the state average of about 31 percent.

According to Grant County Health Administrator Theresa Adkinson, the problem isn't simple. 

"We are up against some vaccine hesitancy. Early on, it was about supply," she said. "Grant County did not get one of the mass vaccination site, and in fact, our vaccine was quite limited given the size of our population."

To combat this, the health district has started mobile vaccination sites to help vaccinate people who work long hours, or in close proximity with others. Grant County is working to make sure people know there are vaccine appointments available. 

When it comes to vaccine hesitancy, Adkinson said its more about educating people about the vaccine than anything else.

"I think if we keep approaching it from a variety of viewpoints, make sure they know where they can get the vaccine," Adkinson said. "[We're] mythbusting. There's a lot of misinformation out there about the vaccine."

The purpose of bringing the vaccination rate up is not only to protect the community, but to also help safely bring back events in Grant County. 

"We actually love to talk about hope, because it's one of the last things we really have right now," Adkinson said. "It's been a really hard year for everybody who works at this health district, and we know it's an equally hard for our community. My hope is to be able to go to the Grant County Fair and watch my son show his lamb, and my hope for the community is that they get to feel safe going into church again."