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Health group encouraging all Kentuckians to ‘buy in’ to getting vaccine

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 10:53 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As people around the world track the progress of COVID-19 vaccines overseas and in the U.S., many Kentuckians are still unsure they will get it.

The FDA is scheduled to meet Thursday to review Pfizer’s vaccine. This is happening while Governor Andy Beshear continues to update Kentuckians on the shipments headed to the state.

As developments continue, the nation is seemingly torn on getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ben Chandler, CEO of the nonprofit Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said first, we need to collect data to find out if there’s distrust, and how it’s grouped: by region, gender, race or something else.

“How do you get people to be less hesitant and help people understand that taking this vaccine is, first of all, very safe, you can trust it, and secondly, that it’s extremely important to us in getting back to any sense of normalcy,” Chandler said.

One example of normalcy: returning to the workplace. Chandler said not being vaccinated could pose an issue next year.

“There may be employers that make it a condition of employment,” he said. “They’re going to be legal issues involved in that and whether they’re even able to do that.”

Chandler said if the FDA approves a vaccine, what the U.S. will do next is unprecedented.

“We’ve never had to do anything like it in the history of the country, to get a vaccine created, first of all, this quickly and then to have that vaccine disseminated,” he said.

The process has just started here in Kentucky. The state is expecting a shipment from Pfizer the week of Dec. 13th, and at least two more shipments from Moderna in the weeks following.

Once those at the front of the line are vaccinated, Chandler said there will be more challenges.

“I don’t think anybody, that I’m aware of, in this country is suggesting that we try to do this in some mandatory way,” he said. “I think it’s got to be voluntary and people have got to be convinced.”

He said, in order to have buy-in from the majority of Kentuckians, people need to be inspired by local leaders.

“Certainly past presidents is helpful; very prominent people are helpful,” Chandler said.

People like faith leaders, and relatable figures, with diversity at the table.

“We’ve heard lots of stories of hesitancy, for instance, in the African American community,” Chandler said. “That’s because of a lack of trust in institutions and in the government in the past”

He said logistics is one thing, but getting everyone on board is another.

Gov. Beshear said he and First Lady Britainy Beshear will take the vaccine.

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