New Vaccinations Increasing in COVID Hot Spots

Ralph Ellis

July 29, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

States struggling with alarming COVID-19 outbreaks are now vaccinating people at very high rates, an analysis of CDC data by Bloomberg shows.

The increases in vaccinations are occurring in southern and central states that have low vaccination rates, such as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, Bloomberg said.

The analysis covered about 2,500 counties, which were divided into quintiles based on June 15 vaccination rates. Bloomberg said the 20% of counties that were vaccinating most slowly six weeks ago are now leading the country in the number of people getting vaccinations.

In Louisiana, more than 9,000 people are being vaccinated daily, Bloomberg said, the highest vaccination rate for the state since mid-April. Similar trends are occurring in Arkansas and Missouri. Those states are also experiencing high rates of COVID hospitalizations.

"We've seen our daily new administrations double, and this week they're on pace to triple or quadruple," Joseph Kanter, Louisiana's state health officer, told Bloomberg. "Everybody knows someone who is sick right now. Those people who are not real anti-vaxxers but were just not real confident are saying, 'I'm not waiting a day longer.'"

The percent of the population over 18 that's gotten at least one dose of vaccine is 52% in Louisiana, 57% in Tennessee, and 59.1% in Missouri, according to The New York Times vaccination tracker. Louisiana has the third lowest rate in the nation, ahead of Mississippi and Wyoming.

Mark Williams, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told Bloomberg that more young people are coming in for vaccinations.

"They can identify with the people who are getting infected and getting ill," he said.

Texas Says 71,000 Vaccine Doses Given Last Friday

Texas reported a similar uptick in vaccinations, with 71,000 people receiving a dose last Friday, according to The Houston Chronicle. That's a 25% uptick over the daily vaccination rate of the past month, The Chronicle said.

Houston Methodist Hospital said that more than 1,000 people received doses on Monday, the highest number of first doses given by the hospital system since early June.

"This is a very encouraging sign, and we need to keep this trend going if we are going to successfully stop this virus before it does more considerable damage," Marc Boom, MD, the president and CEO of Houston Methodist, told The Chronicle. "People should take this extraordinarily seriously as cases are increasing at an alarming rate."

The New York Times says that 64.2% of Texans have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, with 54.8% fully vaccinated.

Judge Says Vaccination Can Count as Community Service

A Louisiana judge has come up with a novel idea: Letting vaccination count toward a defendant's community service.

"Getting vaccinated is a service to the community," Judge Fred Crifasi of the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. "So, if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I will grant credit for that effort toward any requirement of community service. The amount of hours varies and depends on the person's circumstances."

Baton Rouge attorney Ashley Greenhouse said the judge made that offer to one of her clients.

"My client had four hours of community service remaining and the judge offered it to him and then reset the matter," Greenhouse said. "He said if my client returned and showed proof he had been vaccinated he would receive credit for his community service hours. He was very clear that this was just an alternative."

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore supports the idea, saying, "I think it is surely a viable option given where we are at."

Sources

Bloomberg. "New Vaccinations Are Rebounding in the U.S.'s Covid Hot Spots"

The New York Times. "See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State"

The Houston Chronicle. "Texas, Houston Methodist see rush for vaccines, as COVID's fourth wave approaches"

The Washington Post. "Judge offers an alternative to community service sentences: covid-19 vaccination"

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