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Going door-to-door for COVID vaccine: treading lightly and taking 'no' for an answer

Jeanne Kuang, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

The vaccination rate in Greene County crept up to 40% this week, matching the proportion statewide. Of the rest, it's impossible to know how many can be persuaded — by door-to-door or any method.

But demand for vaccines that drove the state to set up a network of mass sites in the early spring has long since ebbed. Instead there are local clinics where, even in the state's third-largest city, two dozen people showing up is considered a good day. Misinformation and the politicization of vaccines have turned local health officials to a slower, house-to-house person-by-person campaign.

Josh Gollaher and Nikki Schaub turned down a flyer as they walked home to their apartment complex down the street from the zoo. Both told a reporter they were adamantly against taking a vaccine.

"I just don't want to," Schaub, 42, said. "I'd rather wear a mask."

"I've gone so long without one," Gollaher, 29, said. "I know my body."

Gollaher repeated the internet-baked canard that the vaccine contains a government tracking device. He's seen it on "every social media." He said he doesn't trust the doctors who have studied the spread of the virus, or the city officials who show up to public meetings with whiteboards and data.

 

"Their studies could be wrong," he said. "It'll blow over."

Schroeder said encounters like that are uncommon for her. Most people, she said, simply have questions about the vaccine. She and Conner are careful not to push back when residents turn them down. They never ask the resident's vaccination status.

"If somebody is already a little uncertain, being aggressive ... is not something that's going to make them feel more comfortable to come in and get vaccinated," she said. "It's a lot about creating that community bond ... so when they see us they don't feel unsafe or threatened."

Some residents were willing to be enlisted to convince their neighbors.

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