Hoke County sits at bottom of vaccination rates in the state

HOKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- In light of President Biden's stop in North Carolina to push more people to get vaccinated, Hoke County remains last in COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state.

The latest North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services data reveals that only 22 percent of Hoke County residents are partially vaccinated.

Dr. Roxie Wells, the President of Cape Fear Valley Health Care, tells Eyewitness News "a large number of citizens here aren't getting the vaccine."

When you break the number down to the demographics, here's what it shows for partial vaccinations:

  • 40% are White
  • 37% are Black
  • 10% are Hispanic
  • 13% are Native Americans and other minorities

At the larger scale, Wake and Durham County are leaps and bounds ahead of Hoke County with 58 percent and 56 percent partially vaccinated in those respective areas. Meanwhile, in the Sandhills, Cumberland County is much closer to Hoke County at 28 percent.

The numbers a bit of a shocker to new Hoke County resident Virginia Swinson, "it seems like people are more adverse to it. Not quite sure why. Just, I don't know, it's kind of unfortunate."

Swinson completed her rounds of the Pfizer vaccine in April. She was working at a fast-food restaurant and "it just seemed like the smartest, safest thing to do."

On the other hand, Belinda Jackson, a long-time Hoke County resident, tells me she worries about COVID-19 but doesn't have enough faith in the vaccines.

Eyewitness News asked Jackson what her worries were. She responded by saying, "what kind of side effects it might have."

Though that data isn't lying, Dr. Wells says there are other variables that impacting the county's numbers.

"I do believe that we need to really look at the military and veteran population," Wells noted.

Wells says the county has a large population of veterans and military members from Fort Bragg. The hospital system and county health department don't have access to those vaccination numbers.

"It would be interesting to collect that data," Wells said, adding she believes the real rate, if you include veterans and military members, would be much higher.

Regardless, Wells and other health officials know they're a long way from their desired 70 percent mark. Wells tells Eyewitness News she believes the county could reach 50 percent in the next few months.

She adds that Cape Fear Valley Health is also looking into transportation options for people who may be unable to reach the hospital or health department.
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