By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
UPPER CUMBERLAND – As COVID numbers continue to climb and COVID vaccinations have slowed, Van Buren County stands out as the only Upper Cumberland (U.C.) county with COVID vaccination rates higher than the state average.
According to the September 10 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health, Van Buren County has 43% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID. The state average is 42.7%. Putnam County is second in the U.C. at 39.8%.
Tina May, LPN at the Van Buren County Health Department attributes the higher than average rates to the word of mouth throughout the county. She said that the health department had done a good job of advertising the times that vaccinations were available, but the strong numbers were just due to the people encouraging each other to get vaccinated.
Van Buren’s vaccination rates were ahead of the state average in every age group with the exception of the 12-15 year age range, with that number just 1.3% shy of the state average.
Putnam is also ahead of the state average in every age group with the exception of the 16-20 year range, with that number also 1.3% shy of the state.
Jackson County is ahead of the state average for those 16-70 but falls just short in the 71+ groups and strongly lags in the 12-15 age range.
Five U.C. counties have less than 27% of their residents fully vaccinated, with the three counties that are part of the Metro Nashville M.S.A. having the lowest percentage of their residents protected. Cannon (23.3%) has the lowest rate in the region, followed by Macon (23.7%) and Smith (25.3%). Fentress (26.4%) and Overton (26.8%) round out the bottom five.
Vaccinations are available daily at most county health departments across the region. Residents that are unable to travel to the health department should contact the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency to arrange for transportation to a vaccination site.