LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As COVID-19 vaccine distribution was ramping up during the latter stages of winter, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky polled more than 800 Kentuckians to get their feelings about the vaccine overall, and one number, in particular, jumped off the screen.
26% of those surveyed said they not only lack faith in the COVID-19 vaccine, but they don’t trust vaccines of any kind. Former U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler, who runs the foundation, sees that as a major concern.
“If the vaccine controversies that have been taking place cause people to not get their regular vaccines in the years ahead, we’re going to be dealing with some serious health problems,” he said.
Kentucky isn’t doing poorly with its vaccine rate at this point, with more than two million eligible residents having received their shot. But vaccinating the remaining one million people will be a challenge. 29 percent of those polled said they would either refuse or probably wouldn’t get the vaccine even if it came to their front door. Others have logistical problems.
“Making it easier for people with small kids, or people who work, or need to be off work to get it,” said Dr. Beth Hawse.
Hawse is a pediatrician in Lexington who once had three young children.
“I do empathize,” she said when explaining that leaving home to take care of your own business can be a challenge when small children are involved.
“Once we determined we had enough supply for our actual pediatric patients and we knew we could get more, we’ve given it to lots of parents,” she said.
Hawse said she actually thought the survey results weren’t too disappointing, pointing to the 37 percent who said they would take the vaccine if it was available in that moment.
“We’re a rural state and definitely have pockets where we don’t have a lot of medical providers,” she said. “So it’ll be important to take that vaccine to those places to make it more convenient. Because as you see in that survey, if it’s convenient most people are willing to take it.”
There was a bit of politics to this poll as well, as 70 percent of Republicans felt it was a bad idea to mandate a back-to-school vaccine. Democrats and Independents weren’t far behind; more than 1/3 of them in all don’t think a mandate would be a good idea.
Dr. Hawse said this vaccine should be a personal decision between an individual and his/her primary care physician. And that each person needs to assess the situation.
“…Ask questions and see how this vaccine could help, or not help in your particular situation,” she said.
What Dr. Hawse means is that while you may feel comfortable being unvaccinated, if you interact regularly with others who are high-risk, it could create problems for them.