Roy Blunt

In this Sept. 14 photo, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., center, answers a question from a reporter during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. Last week, Blunt appeared at an event meant to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rate, especially in rural areas.

Sen. Roy Blunt is attempting to rally support for the COVID-19 vaccine in rural areas where vaccination rates continue to languish.

Blunt made comments in a video appearance at an event hosted by the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project last week.

“While we’ve moved at warp speed, the COVID vaccines were developed following all the applicable requirements,” Blunt, R-Mo., said. “The FDA’s gold standard has been met.”

No Northwest Missouri counties have achieved a vaccination rate high enough to reach “herd immunity.” Scientists believe herd immunity might be reached at a 70% vaccination rate.

Buchanan County, even after a large bump due to an accounting error, has seen less than 40% of the eligible population receive at least one COVID-19 shot.

DeKalb County, a more rural county to the east, has only about 30% of the population taking at least one dose.

Harrison, Mercer, Caldwell and Daviess counties are all below a 36% vaccination rate.

However, there are bright spots. Atchison County, population 5,229, has seen more than 50% of the population get a shot. Livingston County, with a population about three times the size, has a rate of almost 44%.

In his message to Chamber members, Blunt said he’s been vaccinated himself.

“Like millions of Missourians, I’m vaccinated,” Blunt said. “Vaccines are how we get back to normal life. They’re safe, they’re accessible and they’re effective.”

Blunt recalled stories he’s amassed: the father who was hospitalized after believing COVID-19 wasn’t serious and a woman who lost her sister to the virus.

During his speech, he quoted one of the stories.

“This is her quote: ‘I didn’t know what the long-term effects were, and she didn’t know what the long-term effects of the vaccine would be. COVID-19 was the long-term effect for her, and she’s gone,’” Blunt said.

Matt Hoffmann is a our lead investigative reporter. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.

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