Kentucky outlines initial plan to vaccinate health workers

Published 2:25 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

Frontline health care workers at 11 hospitals will be among the Kentuckians to receive initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive this month, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Details about allocating the first vaccine shipments to health workers came as Kentucky surpassed 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Kentucky’s three deadliest days of the surging outbreak have been this week.

Kentucky is expecting to receive about 38,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of shipments later this month, and about two-thirds are reserved for nursing home staff and residents. Health care workers at the 11 hospitals spread across Kentucky will get the remaining 12,675 doses, the governor said.

“We believe that we could be vaccinating people here in Kentucky as early as Dec. 15,” he said.

Emergency room staff and those working with virus patients are expected to get the initial vaccine, the governor said. Each hospital will decide which workers are vaccinated, he said.

“They know who is most at risk and have done that analysis,” Beshear said at a news conference.

Hospitals chosen for the initial allocation are large enough to handle 975 Pfizer doses, the governor said. The government requires ultra-low cold storage for the vaccine, which is awaiting authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. Beshear said he wanted the vaccine spread across Kentucky, and infection rates were another a factor in site selection.

Hospitals chosen for the first round of shipments and the number of doses are: Lourdes Hospital (975), Pikeville Medical Center (975), University of Kentucky Hospital (1,950), Baptist Health Madisonville (975), Baptist Hospital Louisville (975), St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood (975), Baptist Health Corbin (975), Baptist Health Lexington (975), Norton Hospital (1,950), Medical Center at Bowling Green (975) and University of Louisville Hospital (975), the governor’s office said.

Other medical centers in Kentucky will receive future vaccine shipments, Beshear said.

“There are a limited number that we could include in this very first shipment,” he said. “We did our best. Those that are not receiving it, I know very much want it to protect their individuals. We are going to be further spreading this out in future allocations.”

Details about distributing the first vaccine shipment to hospitals came as the state posted near-record numbers of virus cases and deaths Thursday.

Beshear reported 3,895 new COVID-19 cases — the second-highest daily number. The state had 34 more virus-related deaths, the third-highest total. The latest deaths included people ranging in age from 50 to 101.

Kentucky has reported 118 virus-related deaths since Monday, and the state’s three deadliest days of the pandemic have been since Tuesday.
“This virus is in uncontrolled spread and it’s deadly,” the governor said.

More than 1,800 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 415 in intensive care units and 240 who are on ventilators, Beshear said. Some hospitals are being stretched “to the brink” as virus cases escalate, he warned Wednesday.

The statewide rate for positive tests reached 10.07%.

Beshear said 113 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are reported to be in the red zone — the most serious category for COVID-19 incidence rates. People in those counties are asked to follow stricter guidelines to contain the virus.

The governor also extended for another 30 days his mandate that people wear masks in public.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.