LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In Kentucky, 39 percent of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine so far.
The interest in vaccines has plateaued a bit, and University of Louisville (UofL) Health is trying to reach a younger age group in an effort to get that number back up.
Last week we saw the fewest number of new people vaccinated since the beginning of February.
UofL professionals were prepared for this hesitancy after it became more widely available.
The hospital changed its approach by reaching out to groups of people directly. So far that’s included churches and faith leaders, holding clinics at those churches, and doing Zoom education sessions about the vaccine.
Now they’re turning their attention to the youngest age group eligible – high school students.
“The goal is we’ve recognized that we can’t just rely on a doctor’s visit to get them this information,” UofL Health Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Edward Miller. “We have to try new approaches and new avenues. YouTube has been successful, our Facebook page where we share these videos as well, Instagram we’ve even gone to.”
UofL is meeting these students where they are – on social media. That’s important because a lot of misinformation about the vaccine has spread on Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat.
“[I’ve seen] things about microchips being in the vaccine, associating the vaccine with it turning you into a zombie, just different conspiracies and all different types of opinions,” Central High School senior Mya Dean said.
Central pre-med teacher, Shantel Reed, found out her students were getting a lot of false information on social media, so she challenged them to find answers themselves.
“I assigned a research paper where they had to research, from credible sources, the correct information,” Reed said.
Students looked at what the vaccine is made of, what happens when it gets into your body, and how different people might have different reactions.
Before the research, Reed says 80 percent of her students were not interested in getting the vaccine. Now, more than half are vaccinated. Keep in mind, some of her students are not yet 16.
“Following the research paper, I was very informed and more knowledgeable on what this vaccine is and truly what it does and how it’s helping the community,” Dean said.
Anyone 16 and older became eligible to get the vaccine April 5th in Kentucky. But as of Monday, only about 2% of people vaccinated are in the 16 – 19 age group.
UofL Health partnered with Central High School to bring a vaccine clinic to the school on Saturday. Students have been helping to set it up and get the word out.
Dean is now fully vaccinated. She wants to tell her peers to be informed about the decisions they make.
“If you really do decide that your decision is to not receive the vaccine, just make sure you’re knowledgeable, that you’ve done your own research,” Dean said.
The clinic at Central High School starts Saturday at 9 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m. Anyone 16 and up is eligible. You can make an appointment here.
Walk-ins are welcome and identification is required for anyone over 18. Anyone under 18 will need a parent or guardian with them.