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story.lead_photo.caption Annaliese Schroeder, left, a community health advocate, and Kelsey Conner, a public health information specialist, canvass a north Springfield, Mo., neighborhood Thursday, July 15, 2021, for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in the hopes of boosting COVID-19 vaccinations. With the delta variant causing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in southwestern Missouri, health officials have taken to going door-to-door in an effort to encourage vaccinations. (Jill Toyoshiba /The Kansas City Star via AP)

Cole County commissioners agreed Tuesday not to conduct face-to-face canvassing about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Areas of Missouri, along with other states around the nation, have started sending groups into neighborhoods to answer questions about the vaccines and provide information about vaccination clinics.

At the beginning of the month, Gov. Mike Parson said he's against government employees canvassing about the vaccine, but it is ultimately a county decision whether to implement the technique.

About 43 percent of Cole County residents have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 38 percent have received both doses, according to state data.

"As much as I hate to admit it, the boxes were dumb. This is dumber," Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said during a Tuesday commission meeting, referring to COVID-19 supply boxes the county attempted to deliver to every household in Cole County last year.

Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said he knows of several counties, including Boone County, that are canvassing or preparing to, but doesn't favor the idea either.

"I don't think that having somebody come knock on your door and give you a pamphlet is going to make you decide you're going to go get vaccinated," he said. "I am not that in favor of sending people knocking on doors."

The commission cannot stop individuals or groups from canvassing about the vaccine, Western District Commissioner Harry Otto said.

"We probably have some good Samaritans that want to go to a neighbor's house and lobby them for it," Otto said. "We probably can't prevent it or shouldn't prevent it, but I have no desire to authorize or commission a committee to go door to door."

Cole County has had a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, mostly from the delta variant and mostly in unvaccinated people, Dr. Thomas Robbins, of the Jefferson City Medical Group, said Monday during a Jefferson City Council meeting. Some new cases have been "breakthrough" infections in people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

"This variant is more transmissible than the original COVID-19 we've been dealing with, but it's not necessarily more dangerous," Robbins said.

He said hospitals in Jefferson City have around 20 patients with COVID-19, including some on ventilators.

Cole County saw 83 newly reported cases Tuesday, according to the Cole County Health Department website. Cole County has a total of 9,035 test-confirmed cases and 126 COVID-19-related deaths since March 2020.

While Cole County closed its long-term vaccination site at Capital Mall last week, vaccines are still available through the county health department, private practices and pharmacies.

Robbins said there's resistance among mostly young people to get the vaccine.

"They're basing most of the fears — from what we can tell — on information they're getting from social media very often that is just blatantly false," he said. "I think one of the pushes we want to make is that we're not looking to blame anybody for information that they've gotten. We just really want them to know what the scientific facts are.

"The most recent statistics show that over 97 percent of people that have become severely ill have been unvaccinated."

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