NEILLSVILLE — Despite the best efforts of the Clark County Public Health Department, residents there are just not that interested in getting vaccinated.
About 25% of Clark County residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, just ahead of Taylor County (24.7%) as the lowest-vaccinated counties in the state. Roughly 20.4% of Clark County residents have completed their vaccine series.
Kelsey Wussow, Clark County's immunization program coordinator, said her agency has been offering COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru clinics on a weekly basis since early January.
"Our most recent clinic was (Thursday), and we had approximately 140 first-dose appointment slots unfilled," Wussow said. "We welcomed walk-ins, and less than five people accessed the service, without an appointment. The demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is trending down fast. Our local and regional health care and pharmacy partners are noticing the same trend."
Wussow said that moving forward, "our focus will be to identify and serve gap area and populations."
Clark County has a significant Amish and Mennonite population, and those groups "have not been receptive to receiving influenza vaccinations, so it would not surprise me if we see the same hold true for COVID-19 vaccine uptake among that same group," Wussow said.
Wussow said they have a mailing list for 100 members of the Amish and Mennonite communities, and they have sent routine newsletters to them over the past year with updates about the virus.
"Vaccine-hestitant folks may not accept the vaccine, no matter what information we provide or how convenient the vaccine service is made," she said. "At some point, we will have vaccinated everyone who wants the vaccine. I think we may be at that point in Clark County."
Wussow said they are still exploring ideas of pop-up vaccination clinics at businesses.
Other counties in western Wisconsin are seeing the same stalled rates of vaccinations. In the past week, just St. Croix (1.8%) and Pierce (1.2%) counties were ahead of the state's 1.0% growth in vaccinations. A week ago, the state's increase was 1.6%, and down significantly from the 3.0% growth from the previous week.
La Crosse and Iowa counties have now reached at least 50% of its population having received the first vaccination, joining Dane, Door, Bayfield, Ozaukee counties.
Statewide, 2.56 million Wisconsin residents (44.1%) have received at least one dose, with 2.11 million (36.4%) having completed their vaccine series. A week ago, 43.1% of Wisconsinites had received one dose, with 33.8% having finished their doses.
Roughly 81.4% of Wisconsin's seniors (age 65 and up) have now received at least one dose, up from 80.8% last week. About 61.7% of those ages 55 to 64 have also received at least their first shot, up from 60.2% a week ago.
Teens ages 16 and 17 are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, and roughly 27.4% have gotten at least one dose, up from 25.3% a week ago, and 21.7% the prior week. It is anticipated that children ages 12 to 15 will soon be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which could help boost state numbers.