As the fight against COVID-19 continues more than a year after it hit the region and the world, Green River District Health Department Public Health Director Clay Horton said the challenge has shifted.

During its recent quarterly GRDHD meeting, Horton discussed the state of COVID-19 and vaccinations in the Green River region.

With vaccines more widely available, Horton said the new challenge is no longer making sure there is vaccine supply in the community, but rather, building confidence in the vaccine within the community to encourage individuals to get vaccinated.

“We’re getting to that phase now where we need to make sure people are comfortable getting vaccinated and we need to make sure that enough of our communities are seeking out and putting in the effort to get their shot,” he said.

Horton said GRDHD is continuing to focus on outreach efforts in the community to make information regarding the vaccine more accessible.

The vaccination process, as a whole, has moved much more quickly in the region and state than Horton said he originally anticipated.

Most vaccine providers in the community have been in phase three of the vaccination process, which includes anyone ages 16 and older, for nearly three weeks, while Kentucky has been in phase for a week and the nation moved into phase three earlier this week.

So far, according to Horton, around 35% of the adult population — those ages 18 and older — have received the vaccine in Daviess County. More than 26% of the total population in Daviess is vaccinated.

“I told the board in late January that I thought it would be fall before we entered phase three, but I’m very happy to report tonight … most providers in this area have been in phase three for about two and a half to three weeks,” Horton said. “Things moved much faster than we thought they were going to.”

As for the current outlook of COVID-19 in the community, Horton said there has been a slight uptick in cases in the last week, but not nearly as high as cases were during winter months.

“Since the first of the year, case rates have dropped significantly, both in the country and in Kentucky,” he said. “The challenge has shifted somewhat and now we’re moving into a phase where we have to build confidence with the public and make sure we get enough people in society vaccinated so that we can get to that goal of herd immunity.”

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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