Less than half of locals vaccinated

A total of 54 shots were administered July 8 during a COVID vaccine clinic at the Monroe County Health Department office in Waterloo. Some of those were second doses, Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said.

Only a handful of residents took advantage of a COVID vaccine clinic July 4 at the Columbia American Legion. 

A total of 15,935 residents (46.63 percent) in Monroe County are fully vaccinated as of Friday, per the Illinois Department of Public Health. That compares to just 36.88 percent vaccinated in Randolph County and 41.16 percent in St. Clair County.

The next Monroe County Health Department vaccine clinic takes place from 9-11:30 a.m. Thursday, July 22 at 1315 Jamie Lane in Waterloo. To schedule an appointment, call or text 618-340-4819 or 618-612-6404 during regular office hours. 

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will all be available.

Other places to get vaccinated include Waterloo Walmart or Walgreens in Waterloo and Columbia.

There have been 11 new coronavirus cases reported in Monroe County since Tuesday, the IDPH reported Friday. Currently there are 18 active cases and two local residents hospitalized. The COVID case total in Monroe County since the pandemic began is 4,437.

Wagner said that of the more than 16,000 fully vaccinated residents in Monroe County, about 25 have since tested positive for COVID.

“We have had some (COVID-positive individuals) who have been fully vaccinated and have come back positive, which we fully expected,” Wagner explained. “You have to remember, even under the best-case scenario with the highest rating vaccine, it’s only 90-something percent effective, so you have to figure 10 people out of 100 are still going to end up getting sick even though they are fully vaccinated. So yes, we have had some fully vaccinated people end up getting sick. They’re generally minor, meaning they don’t end up hospitalized.”

Wagner added that 95 percent of the hospitalized COVID patients right now in the U.S. are unvaccinated. 

“You have a few that have underlying conditions or things like that who may have been vaccinated but still caught it that may have been hospitalized,” he said. “But in general, the people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated.”

In comparison, Randolph County has seen 17 new cases since Tuesday and has a vaccination rate of just 36.88 percent. St. Clair County, with 145 new cases since Tuesday, has a vaccination rate of 41.16 percent.

Earlier this week, neighboring St. Louis County issued a COVID-19 public health advisory with warnings on mask-wearing and children being exposed to the virus.

The advisory says COVID cases in St. Louis County are increasing at an alarming rate as the Delta variant expands. That county now has a consistent average of over 100 new cases per day.

The advisory said people should wear masks in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status and recommends masks be worn in large crowds or gatherings if it is not possible to social distance. The guidance also says anyone over age 12 should be vaccinated immediately.

Wagner said it is just a matter of time before the unvaccinated contract the virus locally.

“If you don’t get vaccinated, you’re probably going to catch COVID sooner rather than later – especially with the Delta variant around (because) it spreads much easier, meaning you’re pushing your luck,” Wagner said.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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