Vaccine hesitancy is slowing climb to state’s target goal

Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – In the last six days, the state has vaccinated just 52,000 people. It’s on pace to be one of the slowest weeks this year, and it’s far from the weekly rate Kentucky needs to reach the governor’s 2.5 million vaccinations goal.

Right now, the commonwealth is more than 770,000 vaccinations away from the goal. Gov. Beshear had initially said it would take four to six weeks to meet it, but it would take more than 193,000 weekly vaccinations to stay on pace. Health experts admit we’ve got a long way to go.

“I think it will be challenging for our state to reach those numbers. That’s why we are continuing to promote the vaccine really urge people to get the vaccine,” said Teresa Cobb with Baptist Health Corbin.

Baptist Health Corbin plans to reduce the hours of their vaccine clinic in the coming weeks. It’s a similar story at the WEDCO District Health Department, which has put their clinic in Nicholas County on hold because of low demand. They still have them in Harrison and Scott Counties.

“We’re now at a stage where we have plenty of vaccine to go around. So we knew we would reach these days. We thought it would be May so it’s a little earlier than that. It’s a good spot to be in if you want a vaccine,” said Crystal Miller with WEDCO.

They say the slowdown is likely a combination of factors. One of them, the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of a possible connection to blood clots.

“Obviously that derailed us from what we were doing. We had seen a high percentage of people who didn’t want the Moderna vaccine wanting to get Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Many of those people wanting it because it was only one shot,” Miller said.

They’re also working to make it more convenient for people who are working and unable to schedule a vaccine in the middle of the day. Corbin is offering walk-in vaccines.

“To provide more of an opportunity for people that didn’t have time to schedule a vaccine. Even with that effort we still have seen a decline in the vaccine patients that are coming into the clinic,” Cobb said.

At this point, availability isn’t the problem. Miller says going forward, they’ll be focusing on education.

“Because one of the things that we know by some recent literature is that there’s a high percentage of people who have a high school diploma or below do not plan on getting the vaccine. So what we really want to do is put boots on the ground to do some education and really get to the root cause of why people are experiencing vaccine hesitancy,” Miller said.

“I think people need to know the benefits outweigh the risk. If you can avoid getting the COVID virus and becoming infected, the vaccine certainly outweighs the risk,” Cobb said.

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