‘All hands on deck:’ Governor says every Kentuckian has a role in reaching herd immunity

As vaccine uptake slows and appointments go unfilled, getting rid of COVID-19 is more about personal advocacy than ever.
Gov. Beshear updates vaccine rollout as Kentucky aims for 2.5 million vaccinations
Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 3:39 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - New data continue to show vaccine enthusiasm slowing in Kentucky and across the nation, leading to a new phase in the vaccine rollout that focuses on personal engagement and education.

“We need individual relationships to come into play,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Not since the week beginning March 9 has the state achieved its goal of administering 90 percent of the vaccine doses it receives each week. The week beginning April 13, just 84,968 doses were administered of 158,470 received — just 54 percent.

Currently 1,696,530 Kentuckians have gotten at least one vaccine dose. Beshear previously announced he would rescind most of Kentucky’s capacity restrictions at 2.5 million vaccinations.

Nearly 800,000 vaccinations short of that mark, his central message on Thursday was that each Kentuckian must now become an advocate among their friends, colleagues and neighbors.

“We need everyone in society to rally around this, to reassure people about the importance and the value and the benefits of the vaccines,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said.

“We need an all-hands-on-deck approach. We need employers, businesses, physicians, educators — all of us — to help pull together.”

>> This Week | Capacity limits increased at Kentucky stadiums and arenas

Beshear and Stack have dedicated large portions of their recent media briefings to providing what amount to talking points on the vaccines to counter internet conspiracies and disinformation.

“If you actually read the information, if you read the science, you will come to the conclusion that [these vaccines] protect you, and [they] are safe and effective,” Beshear said, adding the vaccines are “some of the most effective vaccines in human history” and have “basically eliminated death and major sickness” from COVID-19.

Here are a few of the other talking points from Thursday:

Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine have shown any serious side effects. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently paused pending a CDC investigation into vaccine recipients who suffered blood clots sometime after their jab.

Beshear has intimated displeasure with the pause, and Stack drove home the point on Thursday that even if the vaccine is found to cause blood clots, the risk is very small.

How small? Less than one chance in a million to experience a clot, and less than one in at least six million for it to be fatal. That compares to around a 1/550 chance to die from COVID-19, the current national rate.

Stack on Thursday cited recent CDC findings that just 6,000 cases of COVID-19 have been detected among 75 million fully vaccinated adults nationwide. That’s a “breakthrough rate” of 0.008 percent.

So, the answer is yes, but it’s extremely unlikely, and the odds of severe illness are drastically reduced.

Both Beshear and Stack have warned the variants, which are now the dominant form of the virus countrywide, are more contagious and potentially more deadly than the original virus. But on Thursday, Beshear cited findings that suggest the vaccines still offer “significant protection” against the variants.

Kentucky currently has around 550,000 vaccines doses available now.

“It has never been easier,” Beshear said, adding the vaccines are available in nearly every supermarket, pharmacy, hospital and health department in Kentucky. “Nobody has to wait anymore.”

And vaccination providers could soon become even more ubiquitous.

Said Beshear, “We’re really going to have to get to the point where, if there’s gonna be a festival, there’s gonna be a tent where you can get vaccinated... If there’s going to be a big sporting event, if they’ll let us, there’s gonna be a tent where you can get vaccinated.

“(...) We’re just going to have to continue to encourage, but also continue to provide more, easier access than we have before.”

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