COLE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Cole County Commission is shutting down the idea of going to residents' homes to provide information about the coronavirus vaccines.
In Tuesday's meeting, commissioners said they had received emails and phone calls from concerned community members about door-to-door outreach efforts.
Other health departments, including the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, have implemented this type of community outreach to boost vaccination numbers.
Cole County's vaccination rate is lower than both Greene and Boone counties. As of Wednesday, 43.2% of the population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 38.4% of residents are fully vaccinated.
However, all three Cole County commissioners opposed the strategy.
"As much as I hate to admit the boxes were dumb, this would be dumber," Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said, referring to the county's effort to send pandemic care packages to each home in the area.
The commission eventually withheld its $318,255 payment to the medical supply company after the boxes were not delivered to each home.
Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said Gov. Mike Parson left it up to each county to determine what vaccine outreach strategies to use.
"In Springfield, they have a pamphlet or flyer that they are giving to people," Bushman said. "I don't think that having somebody come knock on your door and give you a pamphlet is going to make you decide you are going to go get vaccinated."
Harry Otto, the commissioner of the western district in Cole County, said the county could not prevent "good Samaritans" from going door-to-door but said he had no desire to authorize or commission a committee to start the outreach efforts.
"Anyone who wants it can find it, even though we've shut down our spot at the mall because the demand wasn't there," Otto said.
The commission's discussion occurred the same day the Cole County Health Department reported 83 new cases of COVID-19, though 60 of the cases were from tests taken Saturday or earlier. All of the cases were in people who were not vaccinated against COVID-19.
The county has seen a surge in cases that makes it eighth in the state for most coronavirus infections per capita over the last week, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The positive test rate in the county was 20% over the last week.