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Owsley County Farmers Market provides the chance to buy produce and get a vaccine

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 19:30:05-04

BOONEVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Only 13 of Kentucky's 120 counties have at least 50% of their population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose according to the CDC.

Most restrictions have ended, but the virus is still spreading across the state, although at a much lower rate than before.

That's why some areas are trying different methods to reach more people, especially in rural counties.

In Owsley County, 32.5% of the total population has at least one dose of a vaccine.

"We try to encourage people to get the shot, but it seems like it's a tough sell," said Judge-Executive Cale Turner.

Vivian Smith is the county coordinator for the health department. She points to two issues that many rural counties face: education outreach, and transportation.

"Trying to reach people that live out in the rural areas. It's harder to get to them, or for them to get in to us," said Smith.

That's why on Tuesday, the National Guard helped bring the shot to the people. In this instance, the Owsley County Farmers Market was a vaccine site.

"Word of mouth goes a long way in small communities. So the more people that we get talking and telling, I think we can better do outreach," said Smith.

Ever since she got her vaccine in May, Ann Gabbard says she's enjoyed visiting with friends and getting back to the farmers market to sell her green beans.

"Didn't have no problems whatsoever on the first or the second. I'm glad I took it. I was afraid of it the first time, but I would redo it again if I had to," said Gabbard.

Until recently, Melissa Sandlin was hesitant about the vaccine. But that changed when her son, who is in the military, got sick.

"He was gone to training and ended up getting it, and so he was like, mom please with your health issues, for me, do this. So for my child I would do anything," said Sandlin. "Didn't hurt at all, didn't hurt at all. I didn't feel the needle go in."

Recently, the state's public health commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, reported that nearly 99% of those hospitalized in the last several weeks were also unvaccinated.

"Cleveland Medical Center says that 98% of people in their hospitals due to COVID have not had the shot," said Turner. Pardon me, but those odds tell me I need to get the shot.

"Four people ended up getting their first dose during Tuesday morning's clinic."Those four people are going to go talk to their families, to their friends, to their church members to know that they got the vaccine. It's safe," said Smith.

One of those, Sandlin, says she's most excited to call her son and tell him that she got her first dose.