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Rural communities making plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:20 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Two big pharmaceutical companies are in the final stages of developing a COVID-19 vaccine. State and local health departments are now creating plans for distribution, but rural communities may face an even bigger challenge.

A big concern for health departments is how to distribute the vaccine in rural counties, which have far fewer people and health facilities.

“We are having to make multiple plans because we don’t know enough about the supply and demand, there are storage issues,” said Crystal Miller, the public health director for Wedco District Health Department.

Pfizer is planning to ship its COVID-19 vaccine in boxes containing 1,000 to 5,000 doses. That’s fine for large cities, but perhaps too much for smaller communities. Health officials say the vaccines must be kept at extremely cold temperatures, creating a challenge for rural facilities which may not have the resources.

That’s why the Wedco District Health Department is partnering with other entities.

“We’ll work with our local hospitals, we’ll work with our health care coalition,” Miller said.

In the Wedco district, long-term care facilities and first responders will get the vaccines first. The general public will get the them in later phases. But some question the safety of the vaccines and don’t plan on getting one.

“If you look at medicine today, you have 25 side effects for whatever stuff you take that’s normal, let alone something new, so no, I don’t plan on getting it unless it’s proven,” Rhonda Hitch said.

Others are willing to take the risk.

“Something’s got to help. It’s everywhere now, somebody got to do something,” Marshall Sims said.

Wedco District Health Department plans to release more information to the public about the COVID-19 vaccines once they’re available.

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