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Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky hosts panel discussion over recent COVID vaccine hesitancy poll

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Wednesday, a poll from The Foundation for Healthy Kentucky revealed half of Kentucky adults who are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine are open to changing their mind if provided with more information.

At least 71% of Kentuckians have been vaccinated or plan to receive a vaccination, the poll found.

“We’ve really got a shot at achieving herd immunity here in Kentucky,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “I’m encouraged that vaccine-hesitant people are willing to consider additional information about the vaccines. That’s why our current PSAs directly address common questions and concerns about the vaccines and respond clearly with scientific evidence.”

In response to this, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky hosted a panel discussion Wednesday with the topic of Will Kentucky Reach COVID-19 Herd Immunity?

Chandler says 70 to 85% is the goal for Kentucky to reach herd immunity.

“In order to snuff the virus out and give it less hospitable places to live and mutate, we need to get to that herd immunity figure,” Chandler said.

Chandler says the main issue is how politicized the vaccine has become.

According to the poll, 29% of Kentuckians who prefer not to receive or decide not to receive the shot were most likely men, Republican, living in the suburbs or rural communities.

At least 34% of men, 43% of Republicans and 34% to 35% of people living in suburban or rural communities say they would probably not or definitely not get the vaccine.

In comparison, 76% of women, 87% of Democrats, and 70% of Independents, and 80% of those living in an urban area have or intended to take the vaccine.

Those open to changing their mind in time, with more information are Republicans living in suburban or rural communities, and high school graduates. At least 47% of Republicans in suburban counties, 50% in rural counties and 53% of high school graduates are open to changing their mind.

“We’re in a race against increasingly potent variations of the virus,” said Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, Foundation Board Chair and health equity expert. “The nature of viruses is to change, and mutant strains are already circulating within Kentucky’s population. The vaccines give you a level of protection from the mutant strains by reducing serious complications that could lead to death.”

“I think it’s, in my opinion, well documented that this is a considerable issue and a considerable problem and a tragic thing that we’ve got to get beyond. Not to mention the damage to our way of life and the economy,” Chandler said.

Vice President of Policy Allison Adams says they are trying to spread the message, no matter the cost.

“I think that as we work across the state of Kentucky, we keep honing in our message and digging deeper and deeper to reach the hard-to-reach population,” Adams said.

The poll’s data showing a clear goal moving forward.

“Which ones are hesitant, which one’s of those are open to changing their minds, and whether personal considerations or community considerations are the sort of messages that will moves those folks,” Chandler said.

Calling on Kentuckians to keep doing their own research.

“That determines whether or not they will take the vaccine and making sure that is an informed decision and providing them with the information that they need,” Adams said.

The poll was conducted from February 11th to March 12th, 2020. where more than 800 adults from Kentucky were polled. The Foundation plans to survey those same people later this year to see if their intentions have changed.

“The more contagious a disease, the higher the percentage it takes to reach herd immunity. The coronavirus is highly contagious; but, if we can reach the Kentuckians who are reluctant to get a COVID vaccine with facts and data, and half of them decide to get vaccinated, our Commonwealth would be in a much stronger position when it comes to herd immunity,” Chandler said.

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