Stacie Barton, editor of the Leader-News in Muhlenberg County, reports, “Back in July, I sent a letter to county officials, medical leaders and others in our community, asking them to encourage our readers to get vaccinated against Covid-19. We had such a wonderful response! I have published op-eds and letters to the editor from our county judge-executive, several magistrates, the superintendent of schools, our state representative and our state senator, our hospital CEO and the head of hospitalists who is a front-line covid doctor, as well as a venerated local doctor who many trust. As we started to see the Delta wave hit us here in July, I figured what would be the worst thing to happen, if I just asked local leaders to lend their voices. Turns out, many were happy to do so. I truly believe local newspapers have a unique opportunity to share local, trusted voices with our readers at a time when this is needed most. I encourage others in a similar position to reach out to their local leaders and ask them to lend their voices as well. I was surprised how eager they were to help.”
Kentucky newspapers continue to report extra efforts to increase coronavirus vaccinations in their communities, with news, opinion and advertising.
Some newspapers have created ads with their local health departments. One is The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, edited and run by Ben Carlson for many years. He reports, “I’d like to think the campaign we conducted with our local health department had something to do with our county being among the top 10 most vaccinated in Kentucky,” with 62% of residents and 75% of those 18 and older having had at least one dose of vaccine.
“The focus of the campaign was to have a cross-section of local people appear in the promos, ranging from high-school athletes to older white people, Hispanic people and black people. Seeing their friends and neighbors in these promos spoke directly to them, rather than just another voice from the health and medical communities telling them they need to be vaccinated,” Carlson reports.
Barton didn’t mention her own editorials, the latest of which asked “Who is responsible for public health?” and concluded, “It’s human nature to be skeptical of new things, whether it’s a novel coronavirus or a newly developed vaccine. In the case of this pandemic, these tendencies are being hijacked by people sowing confusion, distrust, fear and doubt. Those elected officials working against mandates to protect public health say they are fighting government overreach and protecting individual freedom, without offering any suggestions on how to help keep the public safe and well. Offering solutions is not on the agenda. But it’s also human nature to care for one another. People tend to want to do good by others. In tough times, we link arms to face the unknown. It’s time to protect each other and work together for the greater good. The responsibility belongs to all of us.”