COVID-19

Vaccine tourists provide boosts to small towns

People are willing to travel hundreds of miles to find available vaccine appointments.

Nearly 35% of Kalamazoo County residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. That’s more than the state as a whole. But many residents are still having a hard time booking appointment slots, which fill up almost as fast as they’re made available.

In nearby Calhoun County, only about 28% of the population has been vaccinated. That’s despite vaccine doses being allocated based on population.

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An easy solution for people living in cities like Kalamazoo is to take a quick trip to Battle Creek or Marshall, where vaccine providers are desperate to fill appointment slots.

“Vaccine hesitancy is a real thing and we need to continue to get good information from good sources,” said Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell in an interview with WWMT.

Vaccine hesitancy is a big problem in less populated counties in Michigan. But it opens up opportunities for people nearby who can’t get appointments from their home providers.

It’s also providing a boost to rural areas that have seen their tourism industry decimated by the pandemic. An article in the Atlantic reports that rural tourist towns outside major cities are experiencing a boom of big city visitors seeking vaccination.

Quincy, Ill., for example, has noted an influx of thousands of visitors in recent weeks – all seeking vaccine appointments. They buy food from local restaurants. They book rooms in local hotels. In all, it’s providing a much needed rush of cash to local businesses.

You can read the full story here.

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