LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The City of Lynchburg has the lowest vaccination rate in our area, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Less than 30 percent of the population there has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine as of Monday, April 19.
Compare that to cities such as Roanoke or Danville, where percentages are in the mid to high 30s, or Roanoke County, where nearly half of the population has gotten at least one dose.
“This is certainly puzzling,” said Dr. Kerry Gateley, Director of the Central Virginia Health District, which covers Lynchburg. “I don’t think there’s going to be one factor to explain.”
Gateley says with so many vaccine clinics in town, accessibility likely isn’t the issue.
“I think we’ve worked really hard in this area. Lynchburg City has worked really hard to make vaccines accessible. Certainly one of the best examples of that is the regional vaccination center at Candlers Station.”
Statistically, a Pew Research poll shows white Evangelicals are more likely to not get the vaccine. Forty-five percent say they won’t.
“I do think that it’s sort of about the freedom and personal choice,” said Claire Hannan, Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “You know maybe they feel that they were forced to wear masks or they were forced to do other public health initiatives and they don’t want to be forced to do this.”
She says looking at it another way, vaccines can be a tool to get us back to normal.
“Getting the vaccine is your ticket to getting that freedom back and getting the freedom to participate and compete and go to a large community.”
Gateley says polls about vaccine hesitancy don’t give him enough information about how to address it.
“I’d like to hear from people who speak for those communities as to what exactly is going on or to see if it’s possible to have a dialogue.”
Hannan says anyone hesitant to get the vaccine should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons.