Michele Cullen

Michele Cullen

DEWITT — COVID-19 vaccination rates in Clinton and Jackson counties continue to edge up, as a new study from the University of Iowa showed that the virus is hitting rural communities much harder than metropolitan areas right now.

The vaccination rates of the eligible population fully vaccinated in Clinton and Jackson counties on Monday was 56.6% and 55.6% respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those eligible include anyone 12 years or older.

In August, those numbers were below the 50% mark.

Michele Cullen, who oversees public health in both counties, noted that the vaccines are available at local pharmacies, through the health department and at some medical offices.

Meanwhile, the Iowa study recently released shows that rural Americans died of COVID-19 in mid-September at a rate twice as high as the rate of urban Americans.

The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis has tracked COVID-19 rates in metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties since April 2020, reported Katie Akin for Iowa Capital Dispatch.

In the second week of September, the Center found that rural areas in the U.S. had a COVID mortality rate of 0.85 people per 100,000. Metropolitan areas had a mortality rate of 0.41 per 100,000, according to the report.

The rate of infection was also significantly higher in rural areas, with 66.8 cases per 100,000 compared to 43.3 cases in urban areas, the report said.

The surge in rural COVID-19 infections and deaths stands in opposition to the early days of the pandemic, when the virus swept through metropolitan areas, Akin wrote. But since then, University of Iowa senior research analyst Fred Ullrich said, the virus has spread just as aggressively — and now, more aggressively — in rural areas.

Across Iowa, 87.8% of COVID-19 patients in intensive care have not been fully vaccinated, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Of the total patients hospitalized, 76.4% have not been fully vaccinated, the IDPH said.

Nancy Mayfield is a DeWitt Observer staff writer.

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