Kentucky prepares for COVID-19 vaccine shipments

Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 5:31 AM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s been more than nine months since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kentucky. As early as next week, the first vaccines could be distributed in the state.

“That is a modern, medical miracle,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said during Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

The FDA advisory committee voted Thursday to recommend the FDA’s authorization of the Pfizer vaccine.

During his Thursday update, Beshear reiterated the state’s plan for distributing the vaccine.

“We are so excited,” he said, “beginning maybe even next week to see the first vaccinations in Kentucky.”

Beshear said the Pfizer vaccine could be available in the state as early as Dec. 15.

“And now it’s going to take a few weeks to a few months to ramp it up to get it deployed to the people who most need it, and then to get it available to everybody as soon as capacity allows,” Stack said.

Beshear said the Pfizer vaccine will be deployed to long-term care facilities first.

“It represents 66% of the fatalities we have in Kentucky, so eliminating that will be a major gamechanger,” the governor said.

The state’s goal is to vaccinate everyone in long-term care facilities by March 1.

“We have a moral obligation to prioritize them for this vaccine,” Beshear said. “A moral obligation, and nobody tell me that these folks are old and shouldn’t get it first. Nuh-uh. Every day, every year, every week we are on Earth is a gift.”

If approved by the FDA, the Moderna vaccine could be available in about two weeks.

Frontline workers and EMS will be the first to get the Moderna vaccine, Beshear said.

After the first few shipments of the vaccines are given to long-term care facilities and frontline workers, Beshear said he hopes to get educators vaccinated.

“Not just to have some form of in person classes, but to be able to, we hope, in this next semester have larger and larger and safer capacities in our school buildings,” he said. “We know how important it is it get kids back to in-person learning.”

As for the rest of the population, Beshear said it depends on the amounts of vaccines the state will get and when and how much is being manufactured.

“It’s really going to test us, he said. “We think we’re talking about spring to summer at the latest for getting significant numbers out for reaching more and more of the population. But again, we’re going to need your patience.”

Stack said while the vaccines show great promise, there is are a lot of unknowns, like how long the protection will last and how extensive the protection is. Like Beshear, he is asking people to be patient in the coming months as they continue to learn more.

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