Lewis County officials concerned about lagging COVID vaccination rate

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - In Lewis County, local leaders are seeing their vaccine rates lag behind others in the state. That has the clock ticking on a potential spike in cases there.

Lewis County has fallen behind many of its peers when it comes to doling out COVID shots.

Forty-three percent of its entire population has at least one dose and that number climbs to 53 percent for adults 18 years and older.

“We are the third worst from a vaccination rate of the 62 counties in New York state,” said Jerry Cayer, Lewis County Health System CEO.

That’s a concern for County Manager Ryan Piche. He says as the weather cools in the coming months and people start gathering indoors more, it’s likely to cause a spike in cases.

“We know low vaccination rate, high transmissibility with the delta variant is going to lead to more cases. That is a fairly easy and safe prediction to make,” said Piche.

Cayer shares Piche’s concerns, and says a positive approach is needed to get the county’s vaccine rates up.

“It’s disappointing, and instead of turning into a place of judgment, we need to turn it to a place of ongoing positive reinforcement around the science,” said Cayer.

Piche says public health will continue holding clinics in county communities and the department has shots available at its office.

For people on the fence about getting the vaccine, Piche says it’s important they get the facts.

“We’re encouraging people once again to kind of log off social media, turn off cable news, and call your doctor,” said Piche.

Cayer says Lewis County Health System can increase the number of beds in case of a spike in COVID-19 infections and is working to add more staff.

But, officials say the best course of action is to get more people vaccinated so those beds might not be needed.

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