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Today’s Interview: UK researchers lead new study looks at vaccine hesitancy in eastern Kentucky

Arden Barnes | UKphoto/Arden Barnes | UKphoto
University of Kentucky
Researchers Marc Kiviniemi and Katie Cardarelli on January 13, 2023. Photo by Arden Barnes | UKphoto

Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health have launched a study into vaccine hesitancy in eastern Kentucky.

The project is called the Kentuckians Vaccinating Appalachian Communities or K-VAC. Their goal is to addresses the lower vaccination rates in Eastern Kentucky compared to other parts of the Commonwealth and the U.S.

Dr. Marc Kiviniemi is one of the co-principal investigators on the project. He said the low number of eastern Kentuckians getting the vaccine prompted the study.

“The rates are somewhere between 10 to 25, 30% lower than the state as a whole, even though we’re in the same commonwealth, we have the same state health department, a lot of the same messaging around vaccination, there are very real differences how many folks are seeking out and obtaining the COVID vaccination.”

Dr. Kathryn Cardarelli is also one of the co-principal investigators on the Kentuckians Vaccinating Appalachian Communities study. She said they are going to have to overcome some cultural obstacles in their work.

“Our project builds on some longstanding relationships that several of us on the team have been building with important thought leaders in Appalachia, so as to elicit community input into everything we do.”

The project is a collaboration between the UK College of Public health, investigators from the UK College of Communication and Information, UK College of Medicine, and the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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