Shawnee County health officials working to close disparity in vaccination rates by ZIP codes


TOPEKA (KSNT) – There’s a big disparity in vaccination rates among different ZIP codes in Shawnee County and health officials are working to close that gap by combating misinformation and getting the facts to those areas with the lowest rates.

According to the Shawnee County Health Department:

  • The ZIP codes with the highest vaccine rates are: 66610, 66615, and 66409.
  • Combined, they’re over 60 percent.
  • The ZIP codes with the lowest vaccine rates are: 66612 and 66603.
  • Those areas are falling below 35%.

The department’s Infectious Disease Manager Derik Flerlage said ZIP codes with the lowest vaccine rates have a higher SVI or social vulnerability index. It assesses things like access to housing and poverty levels. Areas with higher rates have more stable housing, poverty levels are lower, and getting access to the vaccine is easier.

“They’re also able to get transport to their pharmacies or wherever they’re choosing to get vaccinated at a little bit easier,” Flerlage said.

He said most cases across the country are people who are unvaccinated, including over 80 percent of COVID inpatients at local hospitals. Flerlage said the vaccine is the most effective tool to combat the rise in numbers and close the disparity in vaccination rates.

“All the vaccines are 90 plus percent effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalizations which is super important,” Flerlage said. “If we have a bigger gap of people that are unvaccinated then that just gives the virus more potential to spread, especially with the variants around and even for new variants to potentially develop and spread in the community too.”

Almost 55% of Shawnee County’s population that is eligible for the shot is fully vaccinated, while over 60% has had at least one dose. Anyone can request a vaccine clinic to come to their area. Click here to find out how.

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