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Will enough Kentuckians get vaccinated to reach herd immunity?

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Nearly 25 percent of Kentucky’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19, but will enough people receive the vaccine in order to reach herd immunity?

As Governor Beshear announced the tenth week of decreasing COVID cases in Kentucky, many are attributing this feat to the vaccine.

“We’re routinely scheduling over 900 each day,” said Melinda Joyce with Med Center Health.

Before mandates and restrictions are lifted, officials say about 70-75 percent of the population should be vaccinated.

“People do need to realize that these vaccines would not have come to market if they were not safe. And if they were not effective,” explained Joyce.

Some skeptics say they won’t receive the vaccine because it hasn’t been out long enough. Officials say that’s not technically the case.

“The messenger RNA technology, which is how these vaccines have been approved, messenger RNA technology and viral vector, that kind of information came from the early 2000s,” said Joyce.

In 2020, only 42 percent of Kentucky adults received the flu vaccine, according to America’s Health Rankings. However, medical professionals say the awareness around COVID-19 and its impact are both far greater than the flu.

“In the healthcare setting, we clearly saw people that died from the flu and complications of the flu but I don’t know if the average person really experienced that like they have with COVID,” said Joyce.

9.4 percent of Kentuckians have had the virus; therefore, those who survived have some sort of immunity.

“So that would also go to that 75% in order for us to get to herd immunity,” explained Joyce.

Even as vaccine appointments become more available, leaders are not discouraged and believe Kentucky will reach herd immunity soon enough.

“I’m not concerned yet. Our goal is to be not too fast, not too slow but just right. And I think we are there. That means gonna mean from time to time we’re going to see the openings that we see,” said Beshear.

Remember that children who make up Kentucky’s population will not be vaccinated. The 2019 U.S. census shows 22.4 percent of Kentuckians are 18 and under; However, 16 and up are able to receive the vaccine.

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