Vaccination Rates Contrast in Urban, Rural Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s coronavirus vaccination rates show a sharp contrast between urban and rural counties in the state.
The vaccination rate is high in large, urban counties. In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, more than 75% of people age 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose, state figures showed.
It’s a different story in many rural counties. Pine County in east-central Minnesota is one of nearly a dozen where most people have decided against getting vaccinated.
“I just don’t think me at 39 should be worried about it so much,” said Pine City resident Jaime Schreur. “I’m not sure really what the hype is, to be honest. I don’t know anybody personally that has been affected with it so I’m not seeing what apparently everybody else is.”
At Sauser’s Hardware in downtown Pine City, there’s no longer evidence of the pandemic’s threat, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
“We have no restrictions in place anymore,” said Michael Sauser, who owns the business along with his wife Mary Ellen. “We took down our spit shields, and we’re pretty much back to normal now.”
But health officials say conditions are nowhere back to normal in Pine County and other places where large percentages of people have chosen not to be vaccinated.
“All I can say is, if you’re not vaccinated, this virus will find you,” said Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. COVID-19 and its variants spread locally among the unvaccinated, Osterholm said.
At a recent wedding reception in Pine County, a dozen unvaccinated people contracted COVID-19, said Pine County community health services administrator Samantha Lo.
“We’re worried about obviously people still getting sick and going to the hospital and dying,” Lo said. “You can see these really disastrous consequences happen.”