NewsLEX 18 In-Depth


Decline in vaccine trust worries experts

Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 20, 2021

LEXINGTON, ky. (LEX 18) — Since the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Kentucky ten months ago, Kentuckians have been consistently encouraged to get vaccinated. Many Kentuckians have done just that. However, since the vaccine became available, some people have revealed hesitancy to get the shot.

Although, that hesitancy has decreased, according to the Vaccines in Kentucky Poll. The poll was commissioned by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and it shows that COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy throughout the state has decreased with about three-fourths of Kentuckians having already reportedly received a vaccine.

In February, about 29% of individuals polled said they did not plan on getting a vaccine. However, according to Ben Chandler, the president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, that number now sits at 20%.

But it's not all good news. Chandler says a decrease in public trust in vaccinations, in general, is causing a burgeoning public health crisis.

“Here in Kentucky, we are at risk of unraveling 50 years of vaccine policy that has protected us from devastating infectious disease with life-long effects,” Chandler said. “Even a small decline in the number of parents who decide to get their children vaccinated for diseases such as measles, mumps, polio or chickenpox puts us at risk of a potential outbreak.”

The poll found that three in five Kentuckians think all children should be required to be vaccinated. However, that drops to 50% among adults who live with children in their households.

"Think about the measles outbreaks a few years ago," said Chandler. "In Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, and Austin, Texas - all the result of parents who chose not to vaccinate their children against these highly infectious diseases."

The poll found that 92% of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine were somewhat or very comfortable with their children receiving recommended vaccines, while only 73% of those who did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine were comfortable with their children receiving recommended vaccines.

What's causing this issue? The same issue that contributes to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

"Much of it comes down to misinformation, mistrust, and just simply not seeing the whole picture," said Chandler.

The poll was conducted August 4 – September 4, 2021, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. More than 500 adults from throughout Kentucky were polled by telephone. The poll includes a +/- 4.3 percent margin of error.