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RACINE COUNTY- The State of Wisconsin has released new data showing the different vaccination rates of residents throughout Racine County for the first time. Overall, 46.9% of residents in Racine County have had at least one dose — which is behind the 50.7% statewide average. Efforts are underway to boost vaccination rates across Racine

Racine’s differing vaccination rates

The Village of North Bay is in the lead with the highest vaccination rate in Racine. 86.7% of the total 188 residents have been vaccinated. In contrast, the Town of Dover has a vaccination rate of 25.14%, equating to 132 first doses received by 545 residents — Racine’s lowest rate. Alternately, the City of Racine has the third-lowest rate at 39.62%. Out of 77,081 residents, 28,343 have received their first doses. 

Reasons for low rates

The reasons for the County’s differing vaccination rates are not yet clear, but lifestyle barriers and misinformation are ultimately thought to be stopping people from getting vaccinated. “There’s a lot of distrust; there’s a lot of people who are not educated about it”, commented Allison Sergio, executive director of the not-for-profit Racine Health Care Network. Taking days off work to get vaccinated and recover from side effects is also simply not an option for low-wage workers. “The vast majority of our patients are employed, but in lower-paying jobs where they don’t get benefits … people just can’t get off of work,” Sergio said.

Encouraging vaccination

Young people are being encouraged to get vaccinated to bring up rates in this age bracket. Nursing students from the University of Wisconsin are also volunteering to give the vaccine to teachers and students in the southern part of the state. For nursing students, volunteering in this capacity is personally rewarding and helps them earn the clinical hours needed to graduate. Students interested in nursing should research and learn more about nursing schools in order to enter this meaningful and fulfilling field. Moreover, Shannon Powell, City of Racine Communications Director, is working to boost vaccination rates throughout the County. The city is hiring roughly a dozen “vaccine champions”: local residents paid to promote vaccines by delivering presentations, talking with fellow community members when out and about, or even going door-to-door. “Those efforts are going to be ongoing for a long period of time,” Powell said. 

“I wish we were a little further ahead with getting the vaccine out,” Powell said, “but we have too much community hesitancy.” Efforts to reach and educate local residents are hoped to ultimately improve vaccination rates in Racine.

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