LONDON, Ky. (LEX 18) — To stop the pandemic, vaccine supply is no longer the problem now in Kentucky and across the country. The issue is demand.
Despite thousands of unclaimed vaccines across the state, the rate of vaccination has slowed over the past few weeks.
That's why two more regional sites are opening this week to try and reach as many Kentuckians as possible.
One will be in Henderson County. The other is in London at the Laurel County Cooperative Extension.
At the moment there are hundreds of vaccinations available in laurel County. But the health department director is optimistic that the convenience of this incoming regional site could encourage even more people to come out and take their shot.
"When we first started administering the vaccine, we were seeing anywhere from 120 to 140 appointments a day. And now we're seeing anywhere from 60 to 80 vaccines a day," said Hensley.
Hensley says hesitancy and the pause of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine have helped slow demand. Moderna is the only current option at the health department.
"And we're seeing a trend now where probably 10-20% of those persons are not coming back for their second dose," said Hensley.
According to the CDC, only 21% of Laurel County residents are fully vaccinated.
In Knox County, the number is even lower at 19.6%. It's a slowdown that has the attention of Cassiday and Brad Holt. They own Boardwalk Cafe and Emporium.
Their Corbin coffee shop's drive-thru is open, but the lobby remains dark on Mondays and Tuesdays for deep cleaning, and to keep people safe until restrictions are lifted.
"Oh, so close. We want to be able to open up seven days a week and bring everybody in to see the artwork. See the local authors in the bookstore we have here," said the Holts.
They're excited to see a regional site open in London, an area with surrounding counties that each have less than a quarter of their population fully vaccinated.
"Southeastern Kentucky is a real big part of Kentucky. So I'm glad to see that we're getting something. About time," said Brad Holt.
Hensley says FEMA coming in to help operate the regional site gives the county's vaccination effort a proverbial shot in the arm and a chance to reach herd immunity.
"The vaccine's available, and if we want to get through the other side of the pandemic, we need to vaccinate the persons within our community," said Hensley.
The regional site in London opens at 10 am on Wednesday at 200 County Extension Road. For the next six weeks, it will be open Tuesday-Saturday.
The Laurel County Health Department is still scheduling appointments for initial Moderna Vaccines. You can call the office at 606-864-5187 or 606-878-7754 to make an appointment.