Butte County Grapples with Low Vaccine Rates

Butte County Grapples with Low Vaccine Rates

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Butte County comprises the Chico, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is in the California Central Valley, north of the state capital of Sacramento. Butte County is known as the “Land of Natural Wealth and Beauty. Butte County ranks among northern California’s predominantly rural counties with a relatively large population (227,000) and a low vaccination rate – only 46.6% of residents are fully vaccinated (51.16% have received one dose).

Chico highlights the county’s challenges such as a large influx of wildfire refugees, a growing population of un-housed people, a sizable Latino immigrant population, a strong anti-vax sentiment in the political and business leadership. The county has no mask-wearing mandate.  Experts at the EMS briefing on December 7th highlighted the ongoing issues and solutions working to improve the vaccination rate and get accurate information to the Spanish-speaking community.

With barely half of its 227,000 people vaccinated, the county is more than 20 percentage points behind the state’s overall vaccination rate. Of the county’s Asian American population, 54.7% are vaccinated, trailing only the county’s Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander people, at 63.4%. Whites are at 47.1%, Hispanic/Latinos 44.5%, African American/Blacks 40.4%, and those identifying as multiracial 27.5%, according to statistics presented by the county health department’s Victor Rodriguez.

County infrastructural needs for more reliable broadband service add to the challenge of reaching people in rural areas, he said, but that information can also be obtained by phone, at: (833) 422-4255.

 “We had the highest infection rate in the county,” Gridley City Councilman Angel Calderon said. “These are essential workers,” he said. “We need to develop our own approach to the pandemic.” “If they don’t work, they don’t eat,” Calderon emphasized. So, there’s a clear disincentive to being tested.

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