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Counties with similar population sizes show major differences in number of COVID-19 cases depending on vaccination rate

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Department of Health data shows major differences in the number of cases reported in counties with high vaccination rates versus those with low rates.

Between September 7th-20th, the three counties with the most COVID-19 cases were Harrison, Desoto, and Jackson. The number of reported cases ranged from 1,244-1,632.

A nurse practitioner and CEO of Harmony House Calls and Medical Services, Stacia Dunson, said part of the reason for the high case counts has to do with the number of people living in those counties.

“Those are areas where you have the beaches; those are areas where you have the casinos,” Dunson said. “You have a lot more influx of people in that area coming from different parts of the state. And so you’re going to have more cases of COVID.”

But another reason, Dunson said, is the fact that those counties have low vaccination rates. Harrison, Desoto, and Jackson have 38% or less of their total population fully vaccinated.

“You have so many people that are still against the vaccine in those areas,” she said. “People are not getting enough education about the vaccine in those areas.”

In comparison, Madison County is also one of the state’s most populated counties.

It has 56% of its population protected against the virus and reported 358 cases over that same two-week period.

That’s nearly 1,300 fewer cases than Harrison and almost 900 less than Jackson.

“Madison is a pretty populated area as well. People are more so; we’re noticing, wanting to get the vaccine in that area. You have a lot of older, more established people in those areas,” Dunson said. “They are stepping up, trusting their doctors, trusting their healthcare providers to get the vaccine. I think that’s why you’re really seeing them want it more, and you’re seeing the decrease in cases.”

As we head further into flu season, Dunson said the vaccine is especially important. Flu and COVID-19 symptoms are so similar, she said, it’s hard to determine which one you’re carrying.

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