Rural folks, we’re independent. We choose when we go to the doctor. We’re not always up on preventative care. We don’t visit specialists very often until we absolutely need to. Therefore, when the COVID-19 vaccine rollout came this spring to almost all of us, many of you chose to wait to be vaccinated.
The COVID-19 data dashboard, state by state, shows it. This opinion column isn't to shame or politicize. It's simply to address the elephant in the room on vaccinations: Rural Americans don't follow the urban trends.
You didn’t share the enthusiasm I did for the COVID-19 vaccine. And that’s OK. In early March, I wrote about my joy and excitement to receive my first COVID-19 vaccine at Nelson-Griggs Public Health District in McVille, N.D. Since then, both my husband, Nathan and I received our second COVID-19 Moderna vaccine. By next week, we’ll be two weeks past and considered fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and proud to be fully vaccinated.
Our decision to be vaccinated had absolutely nothing to do with politics. My husband has an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. He worked in pharmaceutical sales and management in the first part of his business career. Our belief and experience are to vaccinate in a pandemic for what we believe is best for the greater good, not only us but our communities, county, state and world. We seek advice from our medical doctors and trust vaccinations.
Not all rural and ag readers of Agweek or my personal friends agree. I've listened to their feedback. They feel no urgency to vaccinate against COVID-19. Some feel it’s not necessary. They’re not anti-vaccines. They’re not all vaccine-hesitant. They simply are independent-minded individuals and families who feel personal choice in their lives, including health care, drives their decisions.
In their rural county, in their job, on their farm or ranch or in their child’s school, they may not have been personally impacted by COVID-19. Maybe masking or social distancing worked for them, or they just did not know anyone who got seriously ill. They view other interventions as sufficient and are not ready for the COVID-19 vaccines.
I sought out this week to have conversations with a few trusted friends who do not think like me on the COVID-19 vaccine. They aren’t upset with me for being vaccinated. They understand why it’s important for our family to be vaccinated and explained why it’s not for theirs. They also do not like be painted like they're uneducated or naïve when they are choosing to wait to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Your voice needs to be heard. It can vary from what seems like the majority. Rural people tend to not intervene. They prefer to not show up than to have a conflict. Rural people may choose to be a silent majority, rather than take a stand on an issue.
At Agweek, it’s our business to cover the news of agriculture. We give voice to stories otherwise not reported by mainstream media. If you have a story you will go on record to share, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch with you.
In agriculture, we talk a lot about crop input prices, commodity and livestock markets, and land values. But you cannot put a price on people, all types with all differing views.
All sides of a topic or issue need to be heard and given voice. We will not agree. We do need to listen. Organic farming and ranching versus conventional farming and ranching. No-till farming practices versus minimum-till versus full tillage. Grass-fed, grain-fed, free-range, whatever the label is in agriculture, there is a space and place for stories of all types of voices in agriculture to be heard, for the stories to be reported. Agweek is one of those platforms in print, digital and broadcast.
I am vaccinated, values rooted in conservative rural America, small business owner, connected to my farming family. It’s who I am. But who you are looks different and your story needs voice and reporting. If you’d like to share your agriculture and rural story of why you choose to be vaccinated or not, to wait on COVID-19 vaccines or not, if you know for sure you are not vaccinating for COVID-19, and maybe it relates to why you do or don’t vaccinate your own livestock, let us know. Rural America’s story has space and place in Agweek.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at email@example.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.