'There is some level of distrust': Robeson, Cumberland and Hoke counties rank top 10 for vaccine hesitancy

No county or health department is free of vaccine hesitancy, but the latest data trends suggest Robeson, Cumberland and Hoke County rank top ten in that category.

ABC11's data journalists have gathered the numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau's monthly Household Pulse Surveys which aims to gauge the temperature of how likely a person in certain counties will get the vaccine.

Some of the survey questions included asking how likely a person is to get a vaccine, using negative and strongly negative answers as indicators of hesitancy.

In addition, it used a measurement called "Social Vulnerability Index", which essentially means quality of life, adding perspective to why certain people may not want the shot.

The survey determined Cumberland County sits at number six, Hoke County at three, and Robeson County earned the number one spot.

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We spoke to Tammy Maynor, a Tribal Administrator for the Lumbee Tribe, about the her county taking the top spot.

This community is no stranger to the devastating impacts of COVID-19. "It's been the most devastating to see our great leaders, elders who were leaders in our community gone."

Despite the loss of life, Maynor says they still see a lot of vaccine hesitancy and are nowhere near the 70 percent vaccination mark.

"There is, you know, some level of distrust and concern about the vaccine amongst our community," said Maynor.

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According to Dr. Betsey Tilson, the vast majority of people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not have an issue with it.



The Lumbee Tribe, most recently, has started a campaign called, "This Shot is Your Shield", calling on community members to protect themselves and others. It's a community that's only a sample size of a larger scale problem at the county level.

Eyewitness News spoke to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville on Monday about their drop in vaccine interest. The hospital system calling it "concerning" that they had thousands of appointment openings on Monday with only 13.8 percent of Cumberland County vaccinated.

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Meanwhile, in Hoke County, Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital President Doctor Roxie Wells says the survey isn't surprising.

"I don't know that I'm overly shocked," Wells told Eyewitness News in a Zoom interview.

Dr. Wells identifies accessibility and its rural community as factors in the ranking, metrics that are taken into consideration in the U.S. Census Bureau's survey.

"We're trying really hard to reach out to the community through educational materials, through churches, faith groups, through any means that we can," said Wells.

Wells and Maynor both say, regardless of education, they hope community members start stepping up to help their respective counties reach herd immunity at around 70 percent.
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