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'One arm at a time': Whitley Co. health officials contend with rising cases, vaccine skepticism

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Posted at 11:18 PM, Jul 22, 2021

WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the public health director in one of the 13 counties classified as being in the "red zone," Marcy Rein said she is concerned about people who are not vaccinated in Whitley County.

"Our vaccine rate is still pretty low," Rein said. "32.2% of our population here is vaccinated."

The "red zone" reflects an incidence rate of 25 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The color red represents the most critical status.

As cases rise in the county, Rein and other health officials are ramping up their vaccine outreach efforts, working with pop-up clinics at job sites and community events such as farmers' markets.

"We continue to plan different clinics trying to meet people where they are," Rein explained.

Rein said that misinformation circulating about the vaccines has hampered their efforts to encourage people to get inoculated.

According to a CDC survey measuring COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, 22% of people in Whitley County are estimated to be hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 28.6% of people are estimated to be hesitant or unsure, while nearly 15% of people in the county are estimated to be strongly hesitant.

Rein said that while she is "bewildered" by the politicization of the pandemic, most of the questions she fields from unvaccinated people about the vaccines are not political.

"And the answers to those concerns aren't political either," Rein said. "So we really want to get to the root of what their questions are and really answer them."

"It's totally valid to have questions about the health care that you seek and we want to make sure that they feel empowered to make those decisions," she added.