Whitesburg KY

Fewer getting vaccinated here against COVID

Fewer people in Letcher County and throughout the United States are opting to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the disease continues to rage across the world.

The percentage of people being vaccinated in Letcher County is now at 32.3 percent, up 1.7 percent from two weeks earlier. The percentage of those 65 and over is now at 61.4, up 1.5 percent, while the percent of those 18 to 64 who are fully vaccinated is 41 percent, up 2.1 percent from two weeks ago.

While the spread of disease has slowed here, mutated versions of the virus are still a worry with some variants affecting children and young adults more than older people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, developed in Germany, for children as young as 12, possibly as soon as next week, National Public Radio reported. Pfizer will submit data for children down to two years old soon for possible authorization by September. That vaccine is already authorized for adults and teens as young as 16.

The Moderna vaccine, developed in the U.S., is authorized only for those 18 years of age and over, as is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was developed in The Netherlands. Health officials are trying to overcome hesitance by some to receive the vaccine, particularly after production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused after six women developed blood clots after taking it. There had been 6.9 million doses administered, however, making the risk very small.

With school out and travel increasing, officials are urging people to get vaccinated as soon as they can with whichever vaccine is available to them. The U.S. has not yet authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, but has said it will ship 20 million doses of the vaccine to India, where reports are that there are 350,000 new cases per day, and 120 deaths per hour.

While India begs for more vaccine, there are still open appointments here.

At Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital, Community Chief Executive Officer Dena Sparkman said the hospital is seeing fewer serious cases of COVID-19.

“We still have occasionally one or two. It’s not gone completely,” she said. “We’re at almost 70 percent of our staff being vaccinated.”

There are still appointments available to people who want the vaccine. Anyone who does should call 633-3525. Appointments are on Thursdays and Fridays because of how the vaccine is shipped, Sparkman said.

As of Tuesday, the COVID-19 statistics for Letcher and the surrounding counties in Kentucky and Wise County and the City of Norton in Virginia are as follows. Knott – Total 1,141 (23 dead, incident rate 12.5, percent vaccinated 28.1); Lee – Total 1,274 (26 dead, incident rate 13.5, percent vaccinated 26.5); Leslie – Total 909 (8 dead, incident rate 5.8, percent vaccinated 28.8); Letcher – Total 1,898 (42 dead, incident rate 8.0, percent vaccinated 32.3); Owsley – Total 491 (14 dead, incident rate 6.5, percent vaccinated 26.4); Perry – Total 2,641 (65 dead, incident rate 8.3, percent vaccinated 35.1); Wolfe – Total 518 (5 dead, incident rate 25.9, percent vaccinated 30.5); Harlan – Total 2,806 (83 dead, 12.1 incident rate, percent vaccinated 25.9); Pike – Total 5,529 (94 dead, incident rate 9.9, percent vaccinated 32.5); Wise County, Va. – Total 3,136 (160 hospitalized, 96 dead, percent vaccinated 14.7); Norton, Va. – Total 281 (18 hospitalized, 7 dead, percent vaccinated not available).

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