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Doctors struggle to vaccinate rural communities in East Texas

"I've had issues with even persuading my own patients to get the vaccine," Dr. Jose Tovar-Camargo of Palestine Regional Medical Center said.
Credit: TEGNA

TEXAS, USA — On Friday, more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Texas. This high-case count follows after Thursday recorded than 6,000 confirmed cases. The last time we reached that many confirmed cases in a month was early March. 

With the virus spreading, doctors are pushing for people to get the vaccine but in rural communities, it's a struggle. 

"I've had issues with even persuading my own patients to get the vaccine, despite giving them medical and scientific information," Dr. Jose Tovar-Camargo of Palestine Regional Medical Center said.

He says at first getting people to get their vaccine wasn't always easy but they were getting done. Nowadays, he says most people who wanted the vaccine have gotten it.

"I've had a lot of other patients that just say, 'I'm not getting the vaccine,'" he added. "[They] think this whole thing is not real."

Dr. Doug Curran, a family doctor in Gun Barrel City at East Texas Community Clinic, is seeing a lot of the same. He said over the months the interest in the vaccine dropped and it's most visible in their drive-thru clinics. 

"The last one we did, we only had about 40 people come and we'd hope for 300," he said. "It's just been really hard."

With the Delta variant spreading, Dr. Curran says he hopes those who remain unvaccinated open up to the idea to protect not only themselves but the people around them.

"I'm trying to get information out to reassure people that this vaccine is just one of the safest that's ever been made," he said. 

Dr. Tovan-Camargo says vaccines aren't currently available at their hospital but are at local pharmacies in Palestine. Dr. Curran says they have vaccines people can get if they stop by their Athens clinic.