WACO, TX — As COVID-19 cases steadily rise throughout Texas, roughly 40 percent of those over 12 years old are fully vaccinated in McLennan County.
In comparison, the state of Texas as a whole is about 52 percent vaccinated, per CDC data.
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District is continuing to host vaccine clinics in hopes of getting a larger percentage of the population protected from the virus and its variants.
"It's a slow climb, but it's still a concerning climb," said the health district's communications lead, Kelly Craine. "And what we know from nationwide is that the majority of people who are getting sick and getting hospitalized are not vaccinated."
Craine listed not believing in vaccines, having safety concerns and simply not having time as reasons people give for not receiving the vaccine. The public health district hopes to alleviate those concerns with outreach programs such as "vaccine ambassadors", a program that trains interested people on how to properly educate their friends and family on the vaccine.
"It's a unique program. Instead of me as an official health representative telling you, it's your friend, someone that you know, someone that you trust," Craine said.
Over 70 people pre-registered for the department's large-scale clinic today at University High School. Trenton Freeman, recent graduate of University High, was one of them.
"I'm relieved that I did it, that I finally got it over with," Freeman said. "I just gotta wait to get my second dose now."
Freeman, 18, decided to wait a few months before getting the vaccine. It took some convincing from his family to finally get his first dose.
"They always kept telling me to 'Get it, get it, get it!' and I seen my younger cousin get it and I was like, 'Trent come on bro, just go ahead and get the vaccine,'" he said.
With just 40 percent vaccinated in McLennan County and roughly 32 percent vaccinated in Bell County, Freeman isn't the only one in Central Texas with hesitations about the vaccine.
The CDC assures people that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing severe illness or death from the virus, even new variants such as the Delta variant.
"The vaccine is the secret. The vaccine is the tool to get us back to normal," Craine said.
The Waco-McLennan County Health District has several upcoming vaccine clinics available. To learn more and to register, you can visit the county's COVID-19 website.
The state of Texas also offers a list of resources to help find and register for COVID-19 vaccines throughout the state.