The mayor of Springfield, Mo., where COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed, said Sunday the spread of disinformation helped fuel the uptick and “trusted” community leaders and institutions are now working to persuade people to get vaccinated and bring the numbers down.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said social media has sped up the spread of bad information about vaccinations.
“We are seeing a lot of spread through social media as people are talking about fears which they have — health related fears, what it might do to them later on in their lives, what might be contained in the vaccinations,” he said. “And that information is just incorrect. And I think we as a society and certainly in our community are being hurt by it.”
Now, McClure said, the city has turned to its leaders to help spread the word that vaccines are safe.
“We are a community of collaboration,” he said. “Nothing really of substance gets done in Springfield without a lot of people talking about it. And so, we're focusing on those trusted community leaders, those trusted community institutions. And we know that if it comes from the community and leaders of people trust that that helps…. we are working with so many entities to try to spread the word. And these are trusted sources. And I think that's a key to what we have to do to overcome this.”
McClure added local pastors have also “been a great help through this.”
According to data from the Springfield-Greene County health department on Sunday, 40.15% of the population is fully vaccinated — far short of the 70% goal. The number of fully vaccinated residents is 101,292, the data showed, with 116,640 partially vaccinated.
“We had just this past week, for example, the latest numbers showing that we had the largest increase in our vaccination rate in several weeks,” McClure said. “And so I'm optimistic that that message is starting to take hold right now.”
McClure said “community collaboration… is going to be the key to our success.”
“We know what the solution is. It's vaccination,” he said. “People need to get it. It's readily available. We have so many sites that can provide that service. The age groups are now all encompassing down to age 12. So, it gets down to the community leaders, the community institutions that people trust, saying you have to get vaccination. That's the only way that we are going to emerge from this.
The mayor said he believes the controversy over door-to-door knocks to get people to take the vaccine has been overblown — and misses the fact that in his city, that’s how public health works.
“The whole discussion and going door to door has been overblown, I will tell you that public health has been using the …door to door philosophy for years,” he said. “It has been a tried-and-true practice which they use our Springfield Greene County Public Health Department is using it, has been using it for a long time. But the key is that these are trusted community people. We call them community advocates. So, it gets down to the people that community members will trust, the spreading information that is factual and trustworthy.”
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