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Health leaders in rural Ky. stress importance of vaccines for high-risk people

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 10:36 PM EST
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MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - All Kentucky adults can now get the booster shot. Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order making the change.

State and health leaders said this comes at a critical time of year, right before the holidays.

“This last three or four months we have had quite a few deaths from COVID related illnesses. And it has had everyone wanting to get the booster,” said Magoffin County Health Department Director Pete Shepherd.

Shepherd said they got their shipment of booster shots three weeks ago and administer close to 200 each week. With this good news, does come some alarming information.

“We’ve had a spike in cases the last two or three weeks. I think it’s directly related to people becoming complacent because the numbers were going down,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said they were averaging 20 cases per week, but now they’re averaging 85. He said after losing prominent figures in the community, like Rescue Squad Captain Carter Conley in September, hundreds began scheduling vaccine and booster shot appointments.

“I think it was a grim reminder that even though you do all of the things right, you can still succumb to the disease, especially if you’re medically compromised in any way,” Shepherd said. “And diabetes and a lot of health factors are higher than anywhere else in the country.”

Doctors say people with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to have worse symptoms from COVID-19. We pulled the state data on Magoffin County, which makes up less than half a percent of the state’s population. The state data shows 26% of adults in Magoffin County have diabetes— that’s double the state average.

We see similar numbers in other health-related areas, as well. Forty-one percent of adults in the county are obese, compared to 35 percent across the state. The data shows 42 percent with hypertension in Magoffin County and 39 percent statewide.

Also, 19 percent of adults have asthma, comparing to the state average 16 percent.

Shepherd is urging his community to get the vaccine and the booster.

“The facts are the facts, you know. If you look at them it works. Masks work, social distancing works. It all works. The numbers don’t lie,” Shepherd said.

You can click this link to find out more information about where to get your vaccine in Kentucky.

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