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First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. – On Sunday, Gov. Andy Beshear marked a major milestone in the battle against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) as the first vaccines against the deadly virus arrived in the commonwealth.

The initial shipment of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in Kentucky, delivered to Louisville’s UPS Worldport. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to win approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To see photos, click here, here, and here.

“The Pfizer vaccine, which we believe to be 95% effective, has now been authorized in this emergency for us to start vaccinating individuals,” Beshear said. The governor said those most at-risk residents will get the vaccine first.

As shipments continue, Kentucky is expected to receive exactly 12,675 vaccine vials that will soon make their way to 11 regional and ready hospitals in Louisville, Paducah, Bowling Green, Madisonville, Pikeville, Corbin, Lexington, and Edgewood and an additional 25,350 are being delivered to CVS and Walgreens, destined for long-term care facilities in our commonwealth.

Approval is also expected any day for the highly effective Moderna vaccine. This month alone, Kentucky could receive 150,000 doses of vaccine, which the governor celebrated as great news after a long and tough year.

In the initial rounds, local hospitals, as well as long-term care facilities, which have not yet been announced, will be following guidance issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACIP is prioritizing vaccinations among health care staff members who have been our only line of defense treating patients and long-term care residents and staff who have been at high risk and greatly affected by the spread of the virus.

The immediate goal is reducing COVID-19 deaths. With 66% of the deaths coming from long-term care facilities, vaccines could help significantly decrease Kentucky’s COVID-19 death toll beginning in January. Also, because long-term care residents tend to require the most care, vaccinations in these facilities will help reduce COVID-19’s burden on Kentucky’s health care system.

The phases in which more Kentuckians will get vaccines, and the timing, is still unfolding.