LOUISVILLE, KY (June 22, 2021) – Seven in 10 Kentucky adults think the benefits of vaccines for adults outweighs potential risks. When asked about vaccines for children, that number rose to 75 percent of adults reporting the benefits outweigh any risks.

That’s the latest data from the Vaccines in Kentucky poll conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. It looks at Kentuckians’ opinions on vaccines in general.

Although the majority view vaccine impacts as positive, 1-in-4 people said the risks for adult vaccines outweighed the benefits, and 1-in-5 people said the risks of child vaccines outweighed the benefits.

Additionally, 84 percent of Kentucky adults report hearing about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccines for adults a “great deal” or a “fair amount.” Looking at children’s vaccines, 80 percent report the same. There is a slight difference in answers based on geography, with more than half of people living in urban areas reporting hearing a “great deal” about vaccines, while that number drops to under half for those living in suburban and rural areas.

Read the full brief here.

“Vaccines save lives; it’s encouraging that the majority of Kentuckians understand the benefits of vaccines far exceed any risks,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Still, this poll shows we have to keep working to get the facts out there about vaccine safety, dispel misinformation and encourage increased vaccine uptake.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, among children born between 1994 and 2013 – when vaccine coverage was around 90 percent for much of the period – vaccines prevented an estimated 322 million illnesses and 732,000 deaths in the U.S. And, during that same timeframe, vaccines eliminated $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs that those diseases would have caused.

Annual Health Policy Forum

The information about Kentuckians’ views on vaccines in general comes as the Foundation announces its 2021 Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum will focus on vaccine policy. The virtual conference will be held September 20 – 21 and feature top health and health policy experts from across the country, including right here in the Bluegrass.

In 2020, Kentucky ranked 37th in annual immunization uptake, and 43rd when it comes to childhood immunizations, according to America’s Health Rankings. Data also shows the pandemic has impacted vaccination rates. The CDC, this month, reported childhood vaccination rates dropped dramatically in the early months of the pandemic, and many children and teens are still behind in their shots. Meantime, GlaxoSmithKline and Avalere Health reported this month that teens and adults potentially missed more than 26-million doses of recommended vaccines in 2020.

Bost Forum speakers and panelists will explore a growing rate of vaccine hesitancy in America and discuss effective strategies health advocates, providers, and public agencies are employing to increase recommended vaccine uptake in Kentucky.

2021 Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum
Kentucky Vaccine Policy: Myths, Messengers and Messages

September 20: 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET
September 21: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
Virtual – Register Here

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack will kick off the forum with a “State of Vaccines in Kentucky” presentation.

Additional topics include:
• The influence of policy measures on vaccine rates
• Improving Kentucky’s vaccine registry
• Vaccine research, development and approval
• Vaccines in schools
• Vaccine hesitancy
• Messaging campaign successes
• Early childhood, youth and adult vaccines

The Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum is free of charge. For more information and to register, click here.

The Foundation’s Vaccines in Kentucky poll was conducted February 11 – March 12, 2021 by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. More than 800 adults from throughout Kentucky were polled by telephone. The poll includes a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error. It was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.