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Marathon County experiences low vaccination rate in rural areas

Story By Georgina Fernandez
Local News Published 07/14/2021 3:37PM, Last Updated 07/15/2021 5:04PM
Marathon County - According to UW Health officials, rural areas in Wisconsin tend to have a lower COVID-19 vaccination rate than rural areas. It is an issue that Marathon County says they have been battling since the start of the vaccine rollout.
"We are noticing that vaccination across different communities is different," Aaron Ruff, the public information officer for Marathon County Health Department, said.

Now they are attempting to fix that issue through mobile vaccination sites.
"We really want to go out and meet people where they are at and provide mobile vaccination clinics," Ruff said.

Marathon County is home to 23 out of the 25 least vaccinated municipalities in Wisconsin. Only around 10 percent of each town have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to communities such as Wausau, Weston and Schofield where over 40 percent have received the first dose.
The divide between rural and urban vaccination numbers is also a trend seen nationally, according to UW Health. They say rural communities lack the advertising budgets that larger communities have. Instead, they depend on word of mouth from their neighbors and family doctors.
"Nationally it's been found that they really have to get the information from their medical providers that are in their communities, that are close to them and that is the best source of information and most trusted source of information," said Dr. William Hartman of UW Health.

Marathon County says their primary goal now is to get into those rural areas through larger outreach and bringing the vaccine to them.
"So we have offered mobile clinics at places like farms or businesses in like rural parts of the county," Ruff said.

Ruff says the county has vaccines readily available. All that they need is for people to reach out to them.

"If you are a local business or organization that is interested in providing vaccine sites for employees or members, you can contact us on our Marathon county website or give us a call," Ruff said.
Those interested can visit the Marathon County Health Department website for more details.

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