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Educating Ohioans on COVID Vaccine

Residents of our region of Ohio are adopting pandemic-fighting techniques –including getting the vaccine — much more slowly than their counterparts in non-rural and non-Appalachian Ohio. It’s a troubling trend examined in an Ohio University study that reported only 52.2 percent of rural Appalachian residents and 57.7 percent of rural non-Appalachian residents say they are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

That’s a problem.

By some calculations, even if everyone receives the vaccine as they become eligible, it could be next winter before we develop the kind of herd immunity that would allow us all to return to “normal.”

But here in Appalachian Ohio, not only are people wary of the vaccine, there are also fewer people taking other precautions.

OU’s study showed those aged 18-24 were least likely to accept a vaccine, those with a high school diploma but no formal education beyond were far less likely to get one, that Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to accept a vaccine than white residents; and that younger people, men and blue-collar workers were also less likely to adopt other preventive measures.

It is important to find out what is causing the reluctance in Appalachia, and work toward reversing it. But ideas hatched in academia do not always prove effective in the real world. Researchers must develop their plan cautiously, and with a great deal of deference to advice from those living and working here.

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