Contributors: Michael Kuduk, President of the Kentucky Medical Association, Shawn Jones, President of the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care, Nancy Galvagni, CEO of the Kentucky Hospital Association and Delanor Manson, CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association
Opinions of Contributors are soley theirs alone and do not represent the views of ClayCoNews
All health care professionals share the primary common goal of protecting the health and well-being of our patients, especially during the holiday season when COVID-19, influenza, RSV and other dangerous illnesses spike.
As the past several years have presented ongoing health challenges — from the COVID-19 pandemic to a worsened annual flu season and a resurgence of preventable diseases like measles and RSV — it has never been more crucial for Kentuckians to get vaccinated.
However, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation remain significant challenges when it comes to increasing vaccination rates among our communities across the Commonwealth, particularly in rural, underserved areas.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky has seen a troubling decline in vaccination rates for both children and adults. For example, Kentucky’s school-aged children are well below the national average in immunizations. And there are large disparities in some of our rural communities in vaccination rates as well.
This is a serious issue, as vaccination is our first line of defense against preventable diseases that can lead to hospitalization and, in some cases, even death. While there may be small upticks in immunizations among certain patient populations, there is more work to be done to ensure all Kentuckians are staying up to date on routine vaccinations, especially children, pregnant women and the elderly who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and the flu.
That’s why during National Influenza Week, the state’s largest membership associations representing Kentucky’s physicians, hospitals and nurses have teamed up for a new public health initiative, Voices for Vaccination, to echo the importance of getting vaccinated.
Through this public service effort, the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA), Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) and Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) hope to broadly communicate the importance of COVID-19, the flu and other scheduled vaccinations to Kentuckians. As your trusted health professionals, take it from us that vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Vaccines are proven to significantly reduce the burden of infectious disease, save lives and improve the health of our communities. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 50 million deaths can be prevented through immunization between now and 2030.
So, as you’re gathering with friends and family this holiday season, remember that the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick is by staying up to date on all recommended vaccinations. It is one of the easiest and most important actions you can take every year to save lives.
By doing our part to stay healthy, we can minimize COVID-19, the flu, RSV and other viruses this holiday season, allowing us to enjoy more quality time with our loved ones and participate in holiday festivities.
The bottom line is that vaccines are safe and effective for Kentuckians of all ages. This National Influenza Vaccination Week, talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated. They are trusted, credible sources for any questions or concerns that you might have.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves, Kentucky. Please get vaccinated and stay healthy.
Michael Kuduk, M.D., President, Kentucky Medical Association
Shawn C. Jones, M.D., President, Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care
Nancy Galvagni, President and CEO, Kentucky Hospital Association
Delanor Manson, MA, BSN, RN, CEO, Kentucky Nurses Association