NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than a third of Tennesseans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but new numbers from the CDC estimate how many people are undecided about getting the shot.
The data, which was released last week, provides estimates of the percentage of people in a county who are hesitant to get the coronavirus vaccine. Williamson County has the lowest levels of hesitancy in the state, with health officials estimated 16% of people there are uncertain about the vaccine.
In more rural areas, like Lawrence, Giles and Cannon Counties, officials estimate 27% of the population is hesitant to get the shot.
"I'm afraid we're not surprised," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infections diseases at Vanderbilt University, said. He added that it's partially because more rural counties are further from major medical centers and the vaccine messaging those hospitals provide.
"Williamson County is close to Vanderbilt and Meharry, where the support from the experts in infection diseases and support has been very strong," he explained. "As you move from the cities to the country, the reluctance, the skepticism, the hesitancy to get vaccinated increases."
Schaffner said that skepticism could have a real impact.
"If the hesitant and strongly hesitant people really don't wind up getting vaccinated, then the virus will continue to spread in those communities," he said. "Now that the eager beavers have gotten vaccinated, they've rolled up their sleeves, we're going to have to get the people who are hesitant, and we're going to need to listen carefully, ask 'what is your concern?' and respect that and answer their questions."