A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Thousands of UK vaccine clinic openings remain available as community works toward immunity

By Lindsey Piercy
University of Kentucky

It’s a mission the University of Kentucky strives to live up to each and every day – to be the University of, for and with Kentucky.

Now, you can be part of that mission to meet this unprecedented moment and help create a healthier, safer community.

Kentuckians, regardless of the phase they fall into, are encouraged to request an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine through UK’s vaccination clinic at vaccine.ukhc.org.

The need is significant: The numbers of new COVID-19 cases have plateaued this week in Kentucky after multiple weeks of declines. Incidence rates are up across much of the country and around the world. A vaccine is the best defense against a re-emergence or surge of the virus.

And it’s never been easier to get a vaccine: The clinic schedule is full for this week and early next week, but in the days that follow, thousands of appointments are available.

Registration, to indicate your interest in being vaccinated, is easy. Go to vaccine.ukhc.org to register. You will quickly receive an invitation to schedule an appointment.

“Every Kentuckian we vaccinate means one more person who won’t end up in the hospital, on a ventilator or worse,” said Dr. Ashley A. Montgomery-Yates, with UK HealthCare. “Each shot given moves us one step closer to the end of this pandemic.”

You may be considering what a COVID-19 vaccine means for you and your family. To offer support as you make that decision, we’ve compiled facts and figures, as well as insights from experts.

Why it Matters: Remaining Vigilant as Kentucky COVID-19 Numbers Plateau

Volunteers administer the covid-19 vaccine at the Kroger Field clinic. (Photo by Pete Comparoni, UK)

High vaccination rates are seen as a key to achieving herd immunity, particularly as health officials have warned that progress against the pandemic is stalling.

After 11 weeks of consecutive decline, Kentucky’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has plateaued.

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 409 new cases and 22 virus-related deaths. Additionally, 83 cases of a more contagious variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, have been confirmed in the Commonwealth.

At least 1,437,557 Kentuckians have received their initial dose of a vaccine.

Fayette County has 27.6 percent of its population fully vaccinated as of early this week. The two counties ahead of Fayette are Woodford (28.5 percent) and Pike (27.6 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percentage of those fully inoculated is an important statistic, but not nearly enough to achieve the levels of immunity necessary to protect the entire community.

In January, the university pledged to do more and be more for the people of the state when it opened the Kroger Field COVID-19 clinic. Now, it’s currently the largest clinic in the region — serving 20,000+ Kentuckians per week.

In March, the clinic underwent yet another expansion, allowing UK to vaccinate more than 4,000 people each day.

“It’s a tremendous undertaking to stand up a clinic, then to continue to increase the capacity is even more of a challenge from a logistical standpoint,” Joe Monroe, chief of UK Police, explained. “Through partnerships — internal and external — we’ve been able to secure enough equipment to continually make this happen. Ultimately, we’re vaccinating as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.”

Register Now to Receive Your Shot of Hope

Kentuckians, 16 years of age and older, shouldn’t hesitate in signing up — as neighboring states are seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and there is no shortage of available doses.

All residents of Kentucky, as well as those who may reside in a different state but study or work in Kentucky, should follow the steps below to request a vaccine:

• Register at vaccine.ukhc.org. Upon completion, individuals will receive a receipt of confirmation.

• Check email regularly. When it’s time to schedule an appointment per state guidance, individuals will receive a unique access code at the same email used in the request form. This access code never expires and cannot be shared with anyone else.

• Schedule your appointment using this access code. If the dates available do not work with your schedule, keep checking back as more appointments are added based on vaccine supply from the state.

• Email vaccine@uky.edu for any questions. A team member will respond within 24-48 hours.

Additionally, UK students, faculty and staff also have the opportunity to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine on campus from UK’s partner, Wild Health. Students can register at communityvaccine.as.me, while faculty and staff can walk-up.

To date, the university and UK HealthCare, in partnership with UK Athletics, UK’s Emergency Operation Center, the Office of Student Success and thousands of volunteers, have administered nearly 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

While that number is promising, there’s still more work to be done.

“Kroger Field is at the center of Kentucky’s battle against COVID-19 — we’re putting more shots into more arms than any other clinic in the state,” Lance Poston, assistant vice president for student success, said. “Without a doubt, vaccines are a key tool we have to bring an end to this pandemic.”

Vaccines are Effective and Safe

When it comes to the efficacy of vaccines, it’s important to separate fact from fiction.

Vince Venditto, an assistant professor in UK’s College of Pharmacy, has extensive expertise in vaccine design and is trained in organic synthesis. Additionally, he is working on a clinical trial with community pharmacies to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

In a previous article, Venditto busted myths about the vaccines to help inform your decision to get vaccinated.

“It’s unlikely that COVID-19 will go away on its own. Just like the common cold, which is also a coronavirus, it continues to make kids sick every year,” he explained. “But as we age and continue to be exposed, we generate an immune response that prevents us from getting sick. The vaccine helps to accelerate this process to protect us.”

More Answers to Your Commonly Asked Vaccine Questions

As the COVID-19 vaccines become increasingly available, more questions may arise.

For more information on UK’s COVID-19 response, such as details on testing and vaccines, you can visit www.uky.edu/coronavirus.

Video for a tour of the Kroger Field clinic and how it works

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