To date, the nation is about 61% vaccinated, and according to the Mayo Clinic, 53.6% of Kentuckians are vaccinated. Considering it’s only been one year, the numbers are a huge accomplishment.
Breakdown the vaccination climate in the Bluegrass State, the metro counties are ranking in the 70 percentile range of vaccine completion, while the rural counties are somewhere in the 30 to 40 percentile range.
Even though there’s still progress to be made in the more rural counties, it’s been a difficult journey for Kentuckians to figure out how to even get to this point.
“It’s still disappointing that we’re still under that 50% percentile ranking here,” President Anthony Powers, Baptist Health Hospital in Corbin, said.
In Whitley County, 47% of the residents are vaccinated. President Power’s said they’re seeing a pattern of inconsistency with people not returning to get their second dose.
“I think some people think that once they get one shot, they think they’re vaccinated,” President Powers said.
Now going into the second year of vaccine availability, many Kentucky rural counties are looking at ways to take vaccines directly to people.
“We’re looking at opportunities to do vaccines at home as a possibility. It’s something that will probably come after the first of the year,” President Power’s said. “We’ve even begun setting up a site at ballgames just to make it easier for people.”
News of the omicron variant hasn’t set off any spikes as the delta variant had. So, the vaccination rates are down and speak of the public’s ambivalence.
Commissioner of Kentucky’s Public Health Department, Steven Stack, said, “We’ve gotta find ways to normalize how can we live with covid, go on with our lives, not disrupt us the same, but still be responsible so we’re not infecting people.”
At the Capitol, an investigations committee asked Stack about the year’s journey through COVID-19 testing, deploying vaccines, studying monoclonal antibodies, and more had progressed.
Stack made it abundantly clear that the number of completed vaccinations to date speaks volumes to the work the state put in.
“We have essentially had to build an entire testing infrastructure for a single disease that didn’t exist before we did this,” Stack said. “And it had to evolve over time over times of scarcity, differential funding sources, different types of testing, types of settings. . We had to then deploy vaccines, remember this, even though it’s just over 60% of Kentuckians that are vaccinated at the moment, think about 60% of Kentuckians, are fully vaccinated, as we sit here today, and it was just two days ago that the first vaccine became available in the world.”
With the infrastructure and vaccine rollout taking a year to build, Kentucky will continue to try and close the gap between metro and rural counties completing their vaccinations, as there are still many unknowns ahead.
“Omicron is not a big thing in Kentucky at the moment, but that could change in weeks. It’s proven to spread rapidly,” Stack said.