LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians sit on the fence about receiving the coronavirus vaccine, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released statewide data providing a way to reach the unvaccinated.
According to their data conducted in partnership with the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati from Feb. 11 through March 12 through phone calls to 800 Kentuckians, the foundation found 95 percent of Kentuckians trust their healthcare providers, doctors and pharmacists.
"If we can get to a level where people are talking to their providers, where they're talking to their trusted sources of information locally, we have a chance to get a whole lot more people vaccinated," said Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Ben Chandler. "So that's where we believe the campaign really needs to go is to the local level to dig this thing [the pandemic] out as best as possible. Talk to people one-on-one, locally."
The foundation's research found there were several reasons Kentuckians were hesitant to receive their COVID shots including not believing there is enough known about the vaccine, feeling as though it was developed too quickly, worry about long-term effects and not feeling like they have enough information about the vaccines.
Research also found 87 percent of those who expressed initial unwillingness to get vaccinated said they, too, trust their healthcare providers, doctors and pharmacists.
"We also know from the poll that 50%, around 50%, of them were movable could change their mind with more information," explained Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Vice President for Policy Allison Adams, "So even more important, how do we get the facts to the local level with the trusted messengers? The foundation stands ready to assist local communities, and to craft those messages, and be able to deliver those messages."
Adams said rural areas proved to be places where there is more hesitancy to get the vaccine and physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare providers should dig in and have conversations with patients.
Chandler explained the data showed making the conversations personal with those Kentuckians trust would take any politics out of the decision equation, "It's the trust of those people [that] cuts across that political divide and it's one of the only things that does quite frankly."
"Our goal is to get back to a sense of Kentucky and living the life we love to live so you know we know that having those, the vaccine available and more people volunteering to take that vaccine with the information they need, it's vital," said Adams. "To get no matter what population you come from or community you come from we want to get the information to you so you can make that informed decision for your health."