COVID-19 vaccine

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says he may issue an executive order that would expand eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots. 

The federal government has recommended states limit booster shots to those at most risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. However, Governor Andy Beshear said during a briefing on Monday, he believes the nation needs to open up booster shots to everyone.  

“I believe that’s the way we fight off the next wave and I believe the federal government will come back around to that decision at some point," Beshear stated.

Governor Andy Beshear FB

Governor Andy Beshear says a growing number of vaccinated Kentuckians are contracting COVID-19, highlighting the importance of getting a booster dose.

During a briefing from the state Capitol on Thursday, the governor and First Lady Britainy Beshear led by example and received their booster shots.  Beshear said boosters not only shield people from the virus as immunity lessens over time, but also protect against the next variant.

“If we had another rise in COVID, there would be fewer people getting infected and spreading the infection," explained Beshear. "It will also lessen the person who has gotten the booster’s likelihood of being hospitalized, further decreasing the death toll.”

When state senators in South Carolina held two hearings in September about COVID treatments, they got an earful on the benefits of ivermectin — which many of the lawmakers lauded along the way, sharing experiences of their own loved ones.

The demands for access to the drug were loud and insistent, despite the fact that federal regulators had just issued a strong warning against using the drug to treat COVID-19.

Screenshot from YouTube

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported on Monday that more than 20% of all COVID-19 cases in October were among people who were fully vaccinated. Those cases have been on the rise since June — when the Delta variant began rapidly spreading in the U.S. 

Beshear said waning immunity was likely to blame and urged people who are eligible to get a booster shot.  

“When you look at this growth, the only natural explanation is that the immunity does lessen a little bit over time, that delta variant is part of it. But this means you need to get your booster,” Beshear said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made boosters available to people 65 years old and over. That recommendation also includes anyone 18 and older who works in public-facing industries, has underlying health conditions, and those who live in congregate housing settings.

J. Tyler Franklin

Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear said some vaccinations in Kentucky have likely been  overcounted due to reporting that counted numbers twice. 

On Monday, Beshear said the state will have an updated count on Thursday.

“One of the major chains was entering data in two different ways resulting in duplications that wasn’t caught in the federal system,” Beshear said. “What we think that could mean is up to a couple hundred thousand first doses being duplications in our numbers —  potentially, up to 5% of our overall numbers, maybe even close to 6% — being duplications.” 

The state continues to see a decline in hospitalizations and cases. Over the last seven days, the number of people hospitalized for the virus has decreased by 20%. But deaths have yet to slow.

Corinne Boyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

Secretary for Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra appealed to Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday. Speaking at a health policy forum hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Becerra urged people to save lives by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

“Now, I shouldn't have to repeat this, but I will. The vaccines we have are safe. They are highly effective,” Becerra said. “More than 200 million Americans are alive today to tell you that they've had at least one shot. ”

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released a recent vaccination poll that found 20% of Kentuckians surveyed are hesitant to receive the vaccine.

Becerra discussed the consequences of disinformation about the vaccine.

Ryan Van Velzer

A southern Kentucky health department is among the many groups across the nation preparing to give COVID-19 booster shots later this year.

The U.S. Surgeon General announced Wednesday that Pfizer and Moderna booster shots have been approved for the general public, starting the week of September 20.

Third doses of the vaccine are already available for anyone who is immunocompromised, and who is at least 28 days past their second shot.

Julia Davidson is the director of nursing at the Barren River District Health Department, which serves eight counties including Barren, Simpson, and Warren. She said anyone getting a third shot will get the same brand of vaccine they’ve already received.

Lisa Autry

At a time when the Delta variant has led to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is urging those in his home state to “overcome skepticism” about the vaccine.

The Republican leader promoted vaccinations during a stop in Butler County on Tuesday.

As a polio survivor, McConnell said he's perplexed why more Americans aren’t rolling up their sleeves. 

Speaking in Morgantown, the GOP lawmaker noted it took 70 years to find two vaccines for polio compared to the mere months it took to get three vaccines effective against COVID-19.  

He stressed the solution to ending the pandemic is right in our hands. 

"We have the vaccine now," stated McConnell. "We have the solution.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s public school students could be in masks for the next nine months under an emergency regulation approved on Thursday by the state Board of Education in a special meeting.

The measure keeps universal masking in place for up to 270 days, although it can be withdrawn if the CDC or Kentucky Department for Public Health relaxes recommendations for schools. 

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is a non-voting member, told the board of education she supports local decision-making, but added COVID-19 is a national health crisis.

“We have kids right now who are on ventilators in hospitals and being quarantined, which means they can’t go to school," Coleman said. "I’m just going to be very honest with you. Failing to implement a mask requirement, in my opinion, is negligent.”

Lisa Autry

Kentucky school superintendents were grappling with the issue of mask policies before Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Tuesday mandating masks for all public schools in the commonwealth.

Prior to the governor's mandate, and only five days into the new school year, Superintendent Rob Clayton issued a mea culpa in announcing Warren County Public Schools would return to masks for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

“What we do know is that if we had started school with the face coverings, we could have reduced the number of quarantines," Clayton said at a news conference Tuesday.

Med Center Health

A Bowling Green physician is encouraging pregnant women to follow the recommendation of two major medical groups when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.  

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend the shots for all expectant and nursing moms. 

Dr. Madison Moscow, an OB-GYN for Med Center Health in Bowling Green, has seen the effect of COVID-19 on pregnancy.

“I took care of pregnant mothers in the ICU last summer that required mechanical ventilation," recalled Moscow. "I remember one mother who wasn’t even able to see her baby face to face until he was one month old, because she was in a medically-induced coma and we weren’t sure she would survive.”

Lisa Autry

It’s campaign season in Kentucky and the rest of the country, but not in the political sense. 

A vaccination campaign is underway against highly contagious coronavirus variants that are particularly a threat to unvaccinated individuals.  As Kentucky marks three consecutive weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases, the key to beating the virus remains winning the undecideds. 

The Bluegrass State confirmed more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest single-day increase the commonwealth has seen since March 11.  On top of that, the Delta variant has become the dominant and most aggressive strain in the state.  Given that it's more fatal than other variants,  Myrna Denny decided it was time to get vaccinated. 

“Relax, deep breath. Relax those shoulders," instructed a healthcare worker at Denny's appointment.

Denny was at a mass vaccination clinic run by the Medical Center in Bowling Green.  She’d been hesitant to get the shot after having an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine several years.

Lisa Autry

Demand for vaccines has decreased in recent weeks and less than 50% of the U.S. population is full vaccinated.

While in Bowling Green Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

During a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce meeting, McConnell said the nation hasn’t reached the level of vaccination he’d like to see.

If you're a football fan, we're sort of in the red zone, the last 20 yards before the end zone, but not yet in the end zone on getting people vaccinated," McConnell said. "I hope even though we are all back to normal now, we'll still try to encrouge people to get the vaccination."

International Center of Kentucky

The Warren County based International Center of Kentucky is expecting an influx of refugees in the next few months. 

Resettlement programs have struggled to help refugees enter the U.S. because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cuts to admissions made by the Trump administration.

Executive Director of the International Center, Albert Mbanfu, said during a community meeting Wednesday that the center has resettled 111 refugees so far during this federal fiscal year, and is expecting more. 

"June has been a very busy month for the international center, and I think it’s a busy month for all resettlement agencies across the country," Mbanfu said.

Mary Meehan

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing its two COVID-19 vaccination centers in Kentucky on Thursday, June 10.

In April, FEMA opened military-run vaccination clinics in Henderson and Laurel counties, both rural areas with lower vaccination rates at the time. 

The clinic at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Agency was capable of giving 250 doses of the vaccine per day, but averaged about 40 injections daily.  Henderson Mayor Steve Austin said the clinic was a bit out of the way and may have posed a transportation challenge for some residents.

“Honestly, the walk-in clinic didn’t draw the number of people we hoped it would," Austin told WKU Public Radio. However, the satellite vans they sent out to different areas did very well.”