Newton County works to improve COVID-19 vaccination rate


NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Melissa Hunter is a Newton county, Missouri resident who takes care of her mom and initially didn’t get vaccinated against the Coronavirus. But the recent spike in cases in her county has her reconsidering COVID-19 vaccines.

“Mom and I are seriously considering it because of the uptick around here. Like I said, we do not want to get sick,” said Melissa.

The head of the Newton County Health Department would like to see more county residents adopt that attitude, especially with the county’s vaccination rate.

“Yeah, it’s disappointing that we’re at a low rate, and one of the lowest rates in the nation if you look at it,” said Newton County Health Administrator Larry Bergner.

Bergner says that just 20% of the county has had at least one shot of the vaccine, and that low rate is why Newton County has gone from 8 active COVID-19 cases in early May to 140 active cases as of June 30th.

“I think a lot of anxiety still persists on whether the vaccine is safe and effective, and I think it’s been proven that the vaccine is safe. It is effective,” said Bergner.

The Newton County Health Department team is doing their part to slowly but surely push the Newton County vaccination rate up, while also combatting misinformation.

Bergner says 19 county residents who have been vaccinated have still caught COVID-19, but their cases actually prove how effective the vaccine is.

“Out of those 19, none of them were hospitalized except one, and that one had severe underlying health conditions that attributed to his hospitalization more so than the COVID. So out of the 19, we could really say that none of them were hospitalized which means that the vaccine played an important role at keeping them at much lower symptoms,” said Bergner.

As for Melissa, she’s concerned about her county’s vaccination rate and hopes her unvaccinated Newton County friends, neighbors, and community members will give COVID-19 vaccines another look like she and her mom are doing.

“I would like to see the rate go up. It concerns me with everybody getting out and about for 4th of July celebrations. I do not want to see people get sick. I do not want to see people die,” said Melissa.

The Newton County Health Department will be providing COVID-19 vaccinations at the Newton County fair on July 8th from 8:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon.

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