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Central Ky. health leaders trying to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With COVID-19 cases rising, health experts are trying to tackle vaccine hesitancy. They say if more people don’t get vaccinated, the vaccines we do have could become ineffective to new variants.

“I thought they were coming out with so many so quick, so I wanted to see if there were any side effects,” Gary Blair said.

Health experts are worried about the potential impact.

“If we don’t reach herd immunity, the danger is that we will see even more mutations and we may even get a mutation that the vaccine does not cover,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Health experts are hoping to dispel the fears through education.

“I think by opening that conversation and letting the patient have the stage, I think it’s important. Because by doing that you can go in there and educate about the vaccine and say ‘this is what youth but this is the reality,’” Dr. Jai Gilliam with Baptist Health Lexington said.

Blair says a talk with his doctor convinced him to get vaccinated. He was concerned about potential side effects.

“I have high blood pressure, which is under control now, but at the same time I wanted to make sure with my doctor because of blood clots that came up in the news,” Blair said.

Local Black faith leaders have also assisted in reducing vaccine hesitancy. Rev. Donte Jackson says many people have taken advantage of the vaccine clinics at Consolidated Baptist church, but he notes there is still some hesitancy within the congregation.

“We still find some hesitancy because no one really knows the future of this vaccine,” Rev. Jackson said.

On August 1 the church will return to in-person services at reduced capacity. Everyone will have to wear a mask even if they’ve been vaccinated.

“We have to do our best to still provide PPE and still let them know that we hope you get vaccinated but if you don’t, care enough to protect yourself and them as well,” Rev. Jackson said.

Health experts are encouraging people to speak with their medical providers if they have concerns about COVID-19 vaccines.

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