Why I Got Vaccinated: 5 Local Perspectives

By now, you might’ve heard that type 2 diabetes is one of several so-called “underlying conditions” (along with black lung disease, COPD, and others) that could put you at greater risk for worse symptoms from COVID-19, if you got it.

To help protect our neighbors in Eastern Kentucky who have diabetes and these other health conditions, we put together this series of minute-long radio spots, where five local people explain, in their own words, why they chose to get vaccinated.

These voices include a Johnson County firefighter who has type 2 diabetes, a Knott County diabetes educator, and participants from the Floyd County Diabetes Prevention Program. Hear and read their thoughts below!

(And if you are a local radio station, feel free to run these! Click here to download a .zip file of all 5 spots.)

1. Jeanie Wheeler, Johnson County


My name is Jeanie Wheeler, and I live at Sitka, Kentucky, which is about 7 miles north from Paintsville.

I am type 2 diabetic. So, with my vaccine, I had to make a decision on whether— do you take a chance on getting it, because you know, with your diabetes, that in all likelihood, if it’s a bad case, you’re not gonna make it through? Or do you go ahead and take a chance on taking the vaccine?

And I’m a very devout Christian, and the Lord has got it in his hands… but I see no reason to take chances that you don’t have to take. So, therefore, the vaccine, that was my choice.

Jeanie is a volunteer firefighter & a retired nurse in Johnson County, Ky.


2. Betty Sue Martin Rowe, Pike County


My name is Betty Sue Martin Rowe. I’m up in the Robinson Creek area— Pike County.

In my way of looking at this, there’s been millions of people took the vaccine, and it was okay— and they would not have been allowed to put it out if it had not been tested adequately.

So, there’s a risk to everything. Was I willing to take the risk? Yes. You know, to be 75 years old, which one has the biggest risk? To go without the vaccine. So, give me the vaccine.

Everybody needs to do that— for one another, and for themselves.

Betty Sue was a recent participant in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at the Floyd County Health Department.


3. Carol Sturgill, Floyd County


I’m Carol Sturgill. I live at Harold, Kentucky.

I knew I would always take it, the vaccine. You’ve got to weigh the risks and benefits. And to me, the benefits far outweigh the risks of it.

I’m basically healthy. But you’ve got people in the community that’s not as lucky as I am that has these underlying conditions, and if they get it, it’s going to be a lot worse on them. Like, my uncle got it. He was 86. And he died.

And to me, I owed it to my neighbors, my community— for me, it was a non-issue. I knew I would do it.

Carol was a recent participant in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at the Floyd County Health Department.


4. Denesa Watts, Knott County


My name is Denesa Watts, and I’m a registered nurse, and a licensed diabetes educator with Kentucky River District Health Department.

We do know that people with diabetes are more likely to have more serious complications from Covid-19.

So, we just really encourage people to look at the possible risk if they actually did contract COVID-19, and kind of weigh the risk with the vaccine. It’s not something that has been looked at lightly. It has been tested.

And I know in the local health departments, we had long waiting lists when the vaccine came out. We feel that it is a safe vaccine.

Denesa Watts (at left) is a registered nurse, and a licensed diabetes educator with the Kentucky River District Health Department in Knott County. She told Prevent Diabetes EKY that she got her vaccine on the very first day it was available to her.


5. Dianna Ross, Floyd County


My name is Dianna Ross. I work part-time at the Floyd County Health Department as a Health Educator.

I truly believe vaccines work. If you look at the scientific background, they do work. So, to me, you just look at the facts, and make your decision based on what you can live with. And I guess I couldn’t live with not taking it. Because I would feel like— what if I gave it to somebody and they died?

And you never know when there’s somebody that’s immuno-compromised, that you could be bringing something in on.

And you know God’s in control anyway. That’s my thought. God is in control— but I guess, to me, it’s that same concept of taking care of other people… if we can prevent the coronavirus, then let’s do it!

Dianna leads the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at the Floyd County Health Department.