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Gadsden, Wakulla counties make strides to vaccinate seniors

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 18:06:56-05

(WTXL) — Where seniors have struggled getting vaccinated, counties like Gadsden and Wakulla are meeting some of the challenges in those rural communities. Both counties are showing significant progress closing in on herd immunity among seniors.

The Gadsden County Department of Health reports about 71 percent of people over the age of 65 have received a dose of the coronavirus vaccine, adding up to 5,626 seniors vaccinated out of 7,862 total people vaccinated there.

When it comes to minorities, the health department said African-Americans make up half of those vaccinated. Gadsden DOH Director Dr. Adrian Cooksey-Wilson said they've succeeded in outreach because of the partnerships and trust they have with the community.

"It's a testament to the relationships we have with the community," said Dr. Cooksey. "We have pulled on a lot of partners and they've been very helpful in helping us."

The county health department has been hosting at least two drive-thru clinics on a weekly basis for seniors. People who aren't physically able to travel have also been getting the doses brought to them once a week through home-bound clinics. So far, about 100 people have been vaccinated this way.

"Gadsden spans quite a few miles if you think about it and there are pockets and areas where it's very hard for people who don't have transportation issues to get to us so that home bound project has been really well," said Dr. Cooksey.

In Wakulla County, they're turning to faith leaders to get more people vaccinated.

"We have started reaching out to local minority churches to see if we can do a closed pod at their actual church," said County Health Assistant Administrator Tonya Hobby.

Hobby said they've reached nearly 73 percent of the county's seniors, adding up to just under 4,000 people. The health department credits this success to their efforts to provide transportation with the senior center offering people rides to vaccine sites.

"Our seniors are feeling comfortable enough to come out and get the vaccine," said Hobby.

Starting next week, Gadsden County will also bring shots into the classrooms for teachers, allowing them to get vaccinated on their own time.