Kentucky records most daily COVID vaccinations, but uncertainty clouds future rollout

Kentucky reports receiving just around 58 percent of the vaccine doses it was told to expect by the federal government as of Jan. 4.

Kentucky records most daily COVID vaccinations, but uncertainty clouds future rollout
Regional vaccination centers, drive-thru vaccinations and a sign-up/appointment system could be on the way in Kentucky, but when certain phases begin and end depends on how many vaccines the state receives. (Source: WTOC)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky and other states are busy planning for future COVID-19 vaccinations. But at present the rollout is proceeding much more slowly than first expected, while plans for the future are hindered in part by the trickle of information about when the next vaccine shipments will arrive.

The result is a long-term strategy that hangs on short-term deliveries — and even shorter lead times.

Monday Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky will receive an additional 53,800 vaccine doses, roughly half each from Pfizer and Moderna, on Jan. 11.

The commonwealth is also in the process of receiving 57,000 doses initially expected Jan 4.

As of noon Tuesday, Kentucky reports receiving 151,800 vaccine doses total, an increase of almost 30,000 from Monday but more than 50,000 fewer doses than the commonwealth was told to expect by the end of 2020 alone.

Add the 57,000 doses expected Monday and the state reports receiving around 58 percent of its expected allotment — all first doses.

Of that allotment, 66,582 doses have been administered as part of phase 1a, which includes healthcare workers at hospitals and health departments as well as staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

That figure is an increase of 6,168 since Monday, the largest daily increase of the vaccine rollout, according to Beshear.

Both Beshear and Department of Public Health Steven Stack, MD, have said the pace of the rollout will rise dramatically in the coming weeks, aided in part by a goal for vaccine providers announced Monday that encourages them to dose out 90 percent of the vaccines they receive each week.

Beshear also made the point in his Tuesday briefing that only now — three weeks after the Pfizer vaccine was approved for emergency use — has the federal government provided funding to states for the rollout.

“Looking back, one of the major challenges here is, the federal government didn’t provide us funding to build infrastructure to provide this vaccine to people until after the vaccine started rolling out,” he said. “In any organized way that we would have done this, the federal government would have provided us with dollars to build the infrastructure a month before we go the vaccine, or they would have done it themselves.”

Beshear hinted at that infrastructure Monday and Tuesday, including regional vaccination centers, drive-thru vaccinations and a sign-up/appointment system.

Still, assuming Kentucky receives around 55,000 doses per week going forward, as Beshear said could be the case, and assuming 100 percent of those are administered every week, it would take until April 2022 to fully vaccinate all Kentuckians over 16.

That doesn’t factor in additional vaccines being approved. Stack expressed optimism Monday the FDA could approve as many as three more vaccines in the coming months.

Beshear also said more vaccines will be available once vaccinations are complete in long-term care facilities, though it remains unclear whether that would be a zero-sum increase overall.

Lastly, the projection assumes Kentucky will receive that same allocation each week, which is far from certain.

But certainty is in short supply as the rollout proceeds into January. For example, Kentucky received word Tuesday from the federal government it would get those 53,800 additional doses mentioned above... or just six days before they are said to arrive.

Meanwhile, Stack and Beshear have offered a Feb. 1 deadline for the completion of Phase 1a, with Phase 1b expected to begin the very next day. But Tuesday the governor acknowledged the provisional nature of that deadline, pointing to the same uncertainty surrounding vaccine shipments.

“This (is) one of the challenges we have right now,” Beshear said Tuesday. “Some people say, ‘Okay, if I’m in phase 2 or phase 3, what date is that going to begin?’ Well, right now we’re only receiving the information about how many doses we’ll even have about a week in advance, and without a full, guaranteed schedule, and also [without] knowing what other vaccines may be approved and how much are going to be available, there is a limit to how far out we are going to be able to project.”

The rollout’s phases are as follows:

  • 1a: Long-term care facilities; healthcare personnel;
  • 1b: First responders; anyone 70 or over; K-12 school personnel;
  • 1c: Anyone over the age of 60; anyone older than 16 with the highest risk COVID-19 risk conditions according to the CDC; all essential workers;
  • 2: Anyone over the age of 40;
  • 3: Anyone over the age of 16; and
  • 4: Children under the age of 16 if the vaccine is approved for this age group (est. 18 percent of Ky. population).

COVID Update

Kentucky’s COVID-19 case, hospitalization and testing numbers are fluctuating following the holidays and could take several more days to paint a clear, current picture of the pandemic in Kentucky.

  • New cases: 1,781
  • New deaths: 23
  • Positivity rate: 11.4 percent
  • Currently hospitalized: 1,760
  • Currently in ICU: 430
  • Currently on ventilator: 215

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