NAACP, state continue to encourage minorities to get COVID vaccine

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear joined Louisville NAACP leaders Friday to address vaccine hesitancy among some Black Kentuckians and discuss how the administration is working to provide all Kentuckians access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“After meeting and listening to community leaders, we have learned that Kentuckians want to see and hear from people trusted in their respective communities about why it’s important to take the COVID vaccine,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, we thank the NAACP for hosting this event that encourages Black Kentuckians to roll up their sleeves to take their shot of hope.”

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Raoul Cunningham, president of the NAACP Louisville chapter, said he welcomed the opportunity to host the event with the Governor.

“African-Americans are infected with COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans and are twice as likely to die from the virus,” said Cunningham. “The Louisville Branch NAACP encourages the entire community, especially our constituents, to get the vaccine. We are appreciative to the Governor for coming to our community to emphasize the importance of getting the vaccine, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to rid our community, city, state and nation of this god-awful virus.”

Early in the pandemic, Black and African-American Kentuckians were dying of COVID at twice the rate that they make up of the population, but Gov. Beshear and his administration have successfully worked to reduce the disparity.

However, Black Kentuckians only account for 4.6% of those vaccinated so far. The Governor is committed to addressing this inequity.

Today’s event took place at the NAACP chapter’s West Louisville office where several Black Kentuckians received vaccines from Norton Healthcare.

“Norton Healthcare has been caring for the Louisville community in an efficient and inclusive manner throughout the pandemic. By partnering with trusted local organizations, we have been able to help a larger portion of our community receive essential COVID-19 testing and vaccines,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare. “We are pleased to work with our community partners on prevention through vaccination, in conjunction with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the City of Louisville. Registration is now open at www.nortonhealthcare.com for March vaccination appointments for those 60 and older. Norton Healthcare will continue bringing the vaccine to several convenient locations in Louisville, including faith-based organizations, and providing safe environments for receiving the vaccine.”

In addition to the now 410 vaccination locations across the commonwealth, the state has been working with provider partners like the University of Kentucky in Lexington and Norton Healthcare in Louisville to ensure location is not a barrier for Kentuckians who want the vaccine.

Norton Healthcare administered the vaccines Friday, but also is helping to increase availability in Louisville’s West End with a clinic at the YMCA on West Broadway. They also are partnering with the Beshear administration to launch clinics at St. Stephen Baptist Church, Bates Memorial Baptist Church, Quinn Chapel AME Church and New Covenant Baptist Church.

Walgreens and Kroger also offer vaccination shots in the area, along with a Federally Qualified Health Center.

“These vaccines are safe. They are effective. They are saving lives. Please continue to do everything in your power to help us spread that message, so everyone can be protected,” Gov. Beshear said.

The administration will continue its outreach and its efforts to ensure lack of access to transportation or the internet is not a barrier to vaccination. On Thursday, the Beshear administration announced a partnership with public transit agencies across the commonwealth to offer free or reduced-cost transportation to and from vaccine appointments.

These services are already operating in almost 100 counties covering 75% of all counties across Kentucky.

Kentuckians can find a vaccine and transportation services near them by going to kycovid19.ky.gov for a list of participating public transit agencies and their phone numbers. For those unable to access the internet they can call the Kentucky COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-598-2246.