Vaccinations still lag as cases rise

Allen County ranks 90th out of 105 Kansas counties for its COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates. Just 43.16% of all county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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September 16, 2021 - 10:12 AM

Pharmacist Stephen Polley hands a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a nursing student for distribution on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Allen County, and Southeast Kansas in general, have some of the highest COVID cases and lowest vaccination rates in the state. 

Allen County is now ranked near the bottom 10% of all counties in the state regarding vaccination rates and positive cases, at 90th out of 105 counties.

The county has 69 active COVID cases this week, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 1,693. Another death was reported last week, for a total of 24.

Just 43.16% of all county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 38.97% have been fully vaccinated. 

When comparing those who are eligible for the vaccine — all residents age 12 and older — the numbers look a little better. They show 50.16% of eligible county residents have at least one dose, and 45.29% are fully vaccinated. 

The state, though, ranks counties based on total population and not eligibility. 

The average vaccination rate in Kansas is 50.7% for those with at least one dose and 45.3% for those who are fully vaccinated.

In Southeast Kansas, Cherokee County has the lowest vaccination rate at 32.58% with at least one dose and 29.29% fully vaccinated. Neighboring Labette has the highest in the region, with 48.7% with at least one dose and 43.88% fully vaccinated. 

THE UPDATED numbers come at a time of significant division between families in the county over how to keep children safe at school as cases continue to rise.

State lawmakers have tightened the rules on how school districts can respond, with limited options for remote learning. Districts are divided when it comes to COVID protocols, with some requiring face masks and others setting new policies. More than a dozen parents have become frequent visitors at school board meetings to debate the issue.

USD 257, for example, will require a mask policy to kick in when the number of positive cases in a building reaches 4%. Other area districts have adopted similar policies.

The district also allows students to be tested at school, and they can remain in class if results are negative. Since the policy was implemented about two weeks ago, 45 students have chosen the “Test to Stay and Learn” option compared to 41 whose families chose to quarantine or were forced to quarantine because of illness.

The district also is seeing an increase in positive cases among students and staff, with 10 reported district wide on Tuesday. That’s up from seven the previous Friday, and from just three a week earlier.

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