Supply of vaccines now the ‘limiting factor’ in Kentucky’s rollout

The state’s capacity to vaccinate is growing. The federal government’s supply of vaccines is not.

Gov. Beshear updates COVID-19 response, vaccine rollout in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky is now able to immunize far more people per week with COVID-19 vaccines than it receives in doses from the federal government.

After a slow initial rollout, Kentucky was able to administer nearly all the 55,000-odd doses it received the week preceding Jan. 14. The milestone came after Gov. Andy Beshear announced a goal for vaccination centers of administering 90 percent of the vaccines they receive.

Now that same goal, which once seemed ambitious, has arguably become redundant.

That is, the focus remains on getting doses “in the arms” of Kentuckians as opposed to strictly following the rollout’s phases, but there is little concern anymore about vaccines sitting unused in freezers.

Indeed, over the seven days preceding Tuesday, the state was able to administer 83,212 doses. It received just 56,175 for the week.

It’s good news for Kentucky’s vaccination capacity, which could soon immunize 250,000 people from COVID-19 every week, according to KDP Commissioner Steven Stack, MD.

>> Beshear unveils partnership with Kroger on drive-thru vaccination centers

But national vaccine production has not grown in kind. Rather than increasing through the end of winter, as was first hoped, Kentucky’s allotment appears to have stabilized at around 55,000 weekly doses, or “well below what we can vaccinate,” Beshear said.

At that level, without other vaccines approved, it would take until sometime in 2022 before all Kentuckians over 16 are vaccinated (conceivably the pandemic would diminish in severity by turns before then.)

Good news could be on the horizon, as the FDA is expected to take up emergency-use authorizations for two other vaccines in the coming weeks.

More, according to Beshear, the amount of doses diverted to long-term care facilities appears to be more than is needed. Officials are doing those calculations now to see if the excess doses can be repurposed for the general population.

Additionally, the governor issued a formal request this week to Operation Warp Speed that the federal government double the amount of vaccines Kentucky receives per week.

Beshear seemed to premise the request on Kentucky’s efficiency getting the vaccine out, as compared to other states which he said have not fared as well.

According to a New York Times report, Kentucky is 8th-best in the country at administering the doses it has received, with 52 percent of its allocation administered. (The national average is 39 percent.)

“We are proving we can get it out there. We are proving that we are efficient. We are proving that we can get it into people’s arms,” Beshear said.

But in the present, vaccine supply remains “a limiting factor” at this stage in the rollout, according to the governor, one that is “squarely on the federal government” to fix.

Vaccine Update

Kentucky has received 332,450 total vaccine doses.

Of the total doses received, 106,275 have been diverted to the long-term care facility program as required by a federal contract. This includes both first and second doses, explaining why fewer of these have been administered compared to the state allocation.

Of the 106,275 doses allocated through the federal LTC contract, 36,970 have been administered, an increase of 600 since Monday.

Of the 226,175 doses allocated to the state, 184,470 have been administered, an increase 7,273 since Monday.

A total of 221,440 doses have been administered in the state.

COVID-19 Update

Kentucky recorded 2,250 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, one day after the smallest daily case increase since Jan. 2.

Weekly cases were down last week (23,050) from the week before, when holiday reporting lags and a surge in new cases gave the state its highest weekly case number (26,799) of the pandemic.

Recent case data (below) suggest the post-holiday surge is leveling off or has already done so.

COVID-19 cases in Kentucky per day Dec. 12, 2020 - Jan. 19, 2021
COVID-19 cases in Kentucky per day Dec. 12, 2020 - Jan. 19, 2021 (Source: WXIX)

The state also recorded 27 new virus-related deaths Monday for a pandemic total of 3,194.

Kentucky’s rolling seven-day positivity rate stands at 11.55 percent. The rate has come in below 12 percent every day since Friday.

Hospitalization data remained stable through the state’s post-holiday case surge.

Some 1,633 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 442 are in ICUs and 208 are on ventilators as of Monday.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include title of story.

Copyright 2021 WXIX. All rights reserved.