State’s vaccine rollout with Kroger ramps up this week

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Nadia Ramlagan/Kentucky News Connection

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Some residents will be able to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at regional drive-through locations beginning next week. Kroger is working with the state to set up pop-up sites.

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Gov. Andy Beshear created a tiered system for who is eligible, and said later this week — Jan. 28 — a website, hotline number and more details will be announced about site locations and how to sign up.

Jim Gray, Kentucky Secretary of Transportation, and director of the state’s Vaccine Distribution Project, said the goal is to administer 90% of vaccine supply within a week of arrival.

“Kentucky’s doing really well right now in terms of the numbers of vaccines that get into the arms of Kentuckians,” Gray stated. “We’re actually in the top 10 in terms of that ratio, getting those vaccines administered.”

Essential workers, long-term care residents and educators already have begun receiving vaccines.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 data tracker, around 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the Commonwealth so far, and more than 28,000 have been given to residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

Charlotte Whittaker, volunteer President for AARP Kentucky and an Ohio County resident, said AARP supports prioritizing vaccines for older Americans.

“Life’s about choices, and we chose to get our shots,” Whittaker explained. “I’ve missed my friends so much and I miss my grandchildren, and I think I’ll feel much safer to be out around them.”

Kentuckians can find more info about the vaccine rollout at aarp.org/kyvaccine.

A recent modeling study found that vaccinating people age 60 and older is the most effective way to reduce COVID-19 deaths. The second phase of vaccinations will include people age 40 and older, followed by people 16 and older.

Gray added nationwide, supply continues to outpace demand, so he’s urged residents to be patient.

“As Gov. Beshear has said so clearly, if we had the supply, if we had enough vaccine, we could administer the vaccine,” Gray described. “We could get shots in arms. We just don’t have the supply today.”

He noted local health departments will play a critical role in distribution.

“We are continuing to rely on the strength of our local health departments and regional health departments,” Gray reported. “When we get the supply, we want to continue helping them get those vaccines to the folks who are the most vulnerable.”

Health officials are encouraging residents to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 by postponing gatherings and visiting friends and family virtually.