Pike County leads state-wide charge with COVID-19 vaccines

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - As COVID-19 vaccines become more available for people across the nation, the CDC reports that Kentucky sits with around 15% of its population vaccinated.

Many Eastern Kentucky counties rank high on the list of the most vaccinated areas, with Pike County taking the lead at more than 23 percent.

“We were aggressive in not only making sure that the vaccine was available,” said Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn. “We had a flawless system. We had a way for you to get vaccinated.”

Health officials reflected on the numbers Wednesday, one year after the county recorded its first case of the virus.

“It’s always nice to be up at the top of the rankings when you’re trying to do the right thing. But that’s not why we’re doing it,” Blackburn said. “We’re obligated as a regional healthcare provider to administer this type of care.”

According to Blackburn, a lot of work and dedication went into getting the county to this point. But, he said, the progress made since that first case is only possible because of the community support and teamwork displayed in the face of the pandemic. From the governor’s office to next-door neighbors, he said it is the “togetherness” that got the county to this point.

“We’ve got great partners. There’s been a great sense of cooperation and leadership and making sure that we have all the tools,” Blackburn said.

Riley agreed, saying she is proud to be part of the movement forward.

“To protect our community the very best that we could; to have the best outcomes possible,” she said. “I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve made.”

However, Riley and Blackburn also stressed the importance of staying vigilant in the weeks to come to help cut the spread.

“We want to see the community protected with herd immunity,” said Riley. “And we want to see that happen, so we want to continue seeing new individuals seek vaccination.”

Blackburn said PMC is working to expand its outreach with drive-up clinics in central locations. The hospital plans to host pop-up clinics near the Lowe’s parking lot in Pikeville and on the University of Pikeville campus.

Anyone over the age of 16 can schedule a vaccine now.

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