Campus News

Partnership With UK, State, Local and Community Members to Address Access, Equity Issues With Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccine being prepared at UK vaccination clinic at Kroger Field. Photo shows a person filling syringe with vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine being prepared at UK vaccination clinic at Kroger Field. Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 18, 2021) — The University of Kentucky and partners in state and local governments and in the community are collaborating to provide COVID-19 vaccine access to medically underserved populations in Fayette County. 

Beginning Feb. 20, UK and UK HealthCare will be conducting mobile pop-up clinics and continued community testing at four sites over successive weekends. The clinic will then return to those sites at the appropriate dates for booster shots.

The state Department of Public Health is allocating 500 vaccine doses each weekend for the effort. The vaccines and continued testing for COVID-19 will be given at no cost.

The equity and access initiative was announced last week by Gov. Andy Beshear. It is in response to obstacles that have prevented individuals with access and equity issues from receiving the vaccine, including groups who are marginalized because of race, language, economic status and other key factors. 

“Thank you to the University of Kentucky for stepping up in this COVID-19 vaccine rollout, not only to protect your students and staff, but also to keep community members across Lexington safe,” Beshear said. “We recognize that our Black and Latinx Kentuckians are more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccination, and we are committed to listening and working with partners like the university to address these concerns and help ensure the vaccine is equitably distributed.”

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said the mobile clinics are similar to the city’s well received Mayor’s Mobile Neighborhood Testing Program.

“Thanks to UK for recognizing the importance of outreach to these citizens,” Gorton said. “We have a lot of work to do. Of the first doses that have been administered in Fayette County, only 5.7%  went to African Americans. Meanwhile, African Americans have had 17% of all coronavirus cases here and suffered 21% of the deaths attributed to the virus. African Americans represent 15.1% of Lexington residents. There are similar concerns for Hispanics and other minorities.”

 Here are details of the initiative:

  • The first-shot clinics and testing will be held Feb. 20, Feb. 27, March 6 and March 13. Follow-up clinics booster shots and continued testing will be held at the same sites the following four weekends in the same order.
  • Clinic times each weekend will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • The clinic locations are:
    • Feb. 20: Keeneland, 4201 Versailles Road. Keeneland is utilizing its resources to provide vaccine to the Hispanic community who work in the track’s stable area and on Central Kentucky horse farms.
    • Feb. 27: First Baptist Church Bracktown, 3016 Bracktown Road.
    • March 6: Shiloh Baptist Church, 237 E. Fifth Street.
    • March 13: Charles Young Community Center, 540 E. Third Street.

Other details of the initiative include:

  • The community organizations representing these populations are working with UK to identify and invite those who will receive shots each weekend.
  • Walk-up appointments or people not scheduled in advance will not be permitted.
  • UK and UK HealthCare will staff the clinics. Clinical staff for the outreach clinics will include physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and medical and pharmacy students from the UK colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy as well as University Health Service. 
  • Non-clinical registration and logistics coordinators and patient educators will include personnel from UK’s Office for Student Success and the UK HealthCare Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

“We know that access and equity for medically underserved communities — and communities of color — continues to be an issue for too many in our region and across the state,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “Addressing that issue requires commitment. It requires partnership. This is a role UK and UK HealthCare, the state and Lexington — along with partners in faith communities and business — can and must fill. It is part of our mission and who we are for Kentucky.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.