Do You Need the COVID-19 Vaccine If You Live in a Rural Area?
Whether you live in a city, town, village or rural landscape, experts say it’s important to get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.
“The more people who receive the vaccine, the closer we are to getting back to normal and seeing family and friends like we used to,” said Hilary Rockwell, MD, emergency medicine physician and Chief Medical Officer at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that COVID-19 rates in rural areas surpassed those of urban and suburban areas in September and continues to climb. That’s in part because rural areas have a significant population considered at higher risk — an estimated 23% of Americans 65 or older live in rural areas.
Rockwell responds to common concerns from rural residents.
“I don’t go anywhere, so I don’t need the vaccine.”
“It may feel like you don’t go anywhere, but you actually have more interactions than you realize,” said Rockwell.
Whether you are attending church again, buying and picking up seed, visiting a sale barn, going to the grocery store, or grabbing food in a drive thru, your day-to-day life involves interactions with others. This includes visits to your home by friends, family or repair technicians. The COVID-19 virus is extremely contagious and even a small exposure brings the chance for infection.
“I don’t have time to drive to get the vaccine until next week.”
When you have a chance to get the vaccine, it’s best to take it. Vaccine clinics need to schedule thousands of people; it may not be easy to get your appointment rescheduled.
Smaller towns are holding vaccine clinics, so there is a location near you. If you do have to drive a little farther to the county seat or a larger community, plan more errands so the trip isn’t spent solely for the vaccine. And remember, it’s worth the trip to protect yourself and others from a potentially deadly virus.
The process of checking in, receiving the vaccine and staying for observation only takes about 30 minutes.
“I’ve already had COVID-19, so I don’t need the vaccine.”
A COVID-19 infection may have given you some immunity, but this protection wanes over time; there’s a risk of getting the illness again.
“Every time your immune system sees the virus, antibody production increases, which lowers your risk of getting sick and spreading COVID-19 in the future,” said Rockwell. “That’s what the vaccine accomplishes.”
“I don’t need the second dose.”
If the vaccine you receive involves two doses, it’s important to get both for maximum protection.
“For two-dose vaccines, the first dose is a primer, which gives you 50% immunity,” explained Rockwell. “The second dose mounts your immune response to about 95%.”
“I want to get my second dose at a different clinic.”
Vaccine clinics are set up and allocations are planned to give both doses at the same location. Vaccines are from different manufacturers, and another vaccine clinic may not be giving the same one, so getting your second dose at another clinic is not an option.
“Getting your second dose at the same location a few weeks after the first dose ensures you get the correct vaccine and keeps records straight,” Rockwell said.
“I don’t know where to go.”
State websites have offered a plethora of information regarding the vaccine, including:
- Which population group is currently being vaccinated
- Where you can receive the vaccine based on county
- Where and how to register for a waitlist in your community
“I don’t want to pay for it.”
At this time, there is no out-of-pocket cost of the vaccine to the vaccine recipient.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, including a list of convenient locations where you can get it, at Avera.org/covid-vaccine. If you don’t have internet, call 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372).