Vaccination rates contrast in urban and rural Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – Minnesota’s coronavirus vaccination rates show a stark contrast between urban and rural counties in the state.

The vaccination rate is high in the large urban counties. In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, more than 75% of people aged 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to state figures.

It is a different story in many rural counties. Pine County in east-central Minnesota is one of nearly a dozen where most people have decided not to get the vaccine.

“I just don’t think that at 39 I should worry that much,” said Jaime Schreur, a resident of Pine City. “I’m not really sure what the hype is, to be honest. I don’t know anyone personally who has been affected by it, so I don’t see what everyone apparently is.

At Sauser’s Hardware in downtown Pine City, there is no longer any evidence of the threat of the pandemic, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“We no longer have restrictions in place,” said Michael Sauser, owner of the business with his wife Mary Ellen. “We’ve taken our spit shields off and we’re pretty much back to normal now. “

But health officials say conditions have nowhere returned to normal in Pine County and other places where a large percentage of people have chosen not to be vaccinated.

“All I can say is if you are not vaccinated, this virus will find you,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. COVID-19 and its variants are spreading locally among the unvaccinated, Osterholm said.

At a recent wedding reception in Pine County, a dozen unvaccinated people contracted COVID-19, said Samantha Lo, administrator of community health services for Pine County.

“We are obviously worried that people will continue to get sick, go to hospital and die,” Lo said. “You can see these really dire consequences happening.”

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