Beshear unveils partnership with Kroger on drive-thru vaccination centers

The undertaking mirrors a COVID-19 testing partnership that allowed Kentucky to accelerate its testing capacity early in the pandemic.

Gov. Beshear updates COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky will partner with Kroger to create high-volume, regional drive-thru vaccination centers across Kentucky, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

The regional centers will be located within a “reasonable distance” of all Kentuckians and will function similarly to the large testing sites in operation throughout the pandemic, Beshear says.

The first regional center will open the week of Feb. 1. Everyone in phases 1B and 1C (see below) will be eligible to make an appointment.

An appointment registration website and vaccine hotline will be in operation Jan. 28. Kentuckians will be able to schedule appointments at the first regional center on that day.

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray has been named Director of the Vaccine Distribution Project.

“This regional system will grow over time to reach even more Kentuckians,” Gray said. “As we speak, we are working to get sites evaluated and secured. We are committed to ensuring equitable distribution of the vaccine and everyone will have their turn.”

The locations of the regional centers will be announced at a later date. Kroger will also provide vaccinations during scheduled appointments at the grocery chain’s Little Clinic sites.

The state-level partnership with Kroger will run alongside a federal vaccination program expected to be announced in the future.

Beshear urged patience as the vaccine rollout continues, saying the availability of appointments will ultimately depend on the amount of vaccine doses the federal government provides.

>> Northern Kentucky residents 70 or older: Schedule your vaccination with St. Elizabeth Healthcare here

Kentucky’s phased rollout as originally announced was scheduled to proceed as follows:

  • Phase 1A began Jan. 5 - Long term care facilities, assisted living facilities and health care personnel.
  • Phase 1B was expected to begin around Feb. 1 - Anyone age 70 or older, first responders, K-12 school personnel.
  • Phase 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.
  • Phase 2 - Anyone over the age of 40.
  • Phase 3 - Anyone over the age of 16.
  • Phase 4 - Children under the age of 16 if the vaccine is approved for this age group.

However, per a policy announced last week, the focus at Kentucky’s vaccination providers has shifted from adhering strictly to the phase delineations to getting the maximum amount of doses out (at least 90 percent each week.)

Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack affirmed that policy Thursday, saying none of the phases will end “decisively” and that a “residual tail” will exist as vaccinations move on into other phases.

That’s why phases 1A and 1B are underway with some overlap, with Phase 1C set to begin around Feb. 1.

First responders will likely have received their first doses by the end of January and that K-12 personnel will have received their first doses by the first week of February, according to Stack.

Beshear celebrated the accelerated K-12 timeline, saying, “This is really exciting. This means on something as important as vaccines, we are beating deadlines.”

Added good news: Over the last seven days, Kentucky was able to exceed the goal of administering 90 percent of the vaccines it receives. More than 50,000 doses were administered statewide, indicating Kentucky’s slow initial rollout (something most states experienced) has caught up to supply.

So far Kentucky has received a total of 324,650 vaccine doses, 98,475 of which have been diverted to the long-term care facility program as required by a federal contract.

Some 143,560 doses of the 226,175 doses allocated to the state have been administered.

Some 28,977 doses of the 98,475 doses allocated through the federal contract have been administered. This allocation includes both first and second doses.

A total of 172,537 doses have been administered in the state.

COVID Update

Thursday Kentucky recorded 4,084 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 51 deaths.

Kentucky has now lost more than 3,000 lives from complications due to COVID-19.

Some 1,661 Kentuckians are hospitalized with the virus, 409 are in ICUs and 196 are on ventilators.

Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky
Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky (Source: WXIX)

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