NewsCovering Kentucky


Rural health departments face added challenges in vaccine distribution

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 18:15:24-05

SOMERSET, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the state prepares to head into Phase 1b of Kentucky’s vaccine rollout, rural communities are experiencing more problems with administering the shots.

More than 226,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been received in Kentucky, according to the state’s most recent data. Of those, approximately 2,200 have been administered to Kentuckians in the Lake Cumberland District Health Department’s 10-county region.

Public Health Director Shawn Crabtree said the number of doses they’ve received to date is not enough for everyone in his district who falls under Phase 1a, and it won’t be enough when Phase 1-b kicks off in February.

“We've not had any trouble in our district moving every vaccine we can get our hands on very efficiently and very quickly. It's just we don't have enough vaccines,” said Crabtree.

Crabtree said his district faces huge supply and demand issues with the COVID-19 vaccine.

When more people become eligible for it, he predicts many will face long waiting periods as the health department waits for more shipments to arrive.

“There will come a time when we have to seek out the people that have been missed, but initially, just getting past the people that are knocking on your door is going to take us a while to get past that,” Crabtree said.

There are currently no intensive care unit beds left in LCDHD’s region because of spikes in COVID-19 cases around the state. Meanwhile, healthcare workers are being asked to take time away from hospital duties to help administer vaccines because distributors are limited in rural America.

“Fortunately, right now, we're kind of stabilized in our new cases is kind of plateaued in Lake Cumberland, and, you know, we've, we've been able to keep, but we're certainly stretched to our outer limits and beyond,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree is begging Kentuckians to mask up and follow health guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We need the public to be vigilant on wearing your masks, social distance and avoid crowds. People may say it’s not perfect, but nothing is 100-percent safe during a pandemic. If you can do something to slow it, we need the relief. Every ICU bed is taken up in my entire district and we need the relief,” Crabtree said.