LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear visited Lafayette High School in Lexington during the school’s pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
During Tuesday’s visit, the governor encouraged youth vaccinations and thanked students for “rolling up their sleeves” for the age-approved Pfizer vaccine.
Partnering with Wild Health, each of the six Fayette County public high schools are hosting vaccination clinics Tuesday.
“For about two months, our 16- and 17-year-olds have been eligible for the Pfizer shot. Last Thursday, that age eligibility dropped to include everyone 12 and older,” said Gov. Beshear. “We need every eligible student, and the parents and guardians of every eligible student, to understand these vaccines are safe and will protect our young people from what can be a devastating illness with lifelong consequences.”
Kentucky led the nation in educator vaccinations, allowing schools to get children back to in-person instruction more quickly and sustainably than in most other states. According to the Governor, the next essential step to ensuring students’ safety from COVID-19 is increasing vaccinations among Kentuckians 12 and older.
As of Monday, 1,927,168 people have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the state, including more than 24,000 Kentuckians age 12 to 17. Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm said more than 1,700 people, mostly students, had signed up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at one of Tuesday’s six FCPS clinics.
“It has been a long year. I’m ready, and the community is ready, to be one and done with COVID-19. The best way to make that happen is to get a vaccine,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said. “There are locations all over town and they’re free. Get your vaccine today.”
“This pandemic has punctuated the power of partnerships. Just as it took our entire community to harness transmission rates so our students could safely return to campus, it will take all of us literally rolling up our sleeves to reach a point where we can return to the routines we have missed for the past 14 months,” said Helm. “We are grateful to the Governor, Mayor and Wild Health for allowing us to be a part of this great work and owe a debt of gratitude to our tremendous team of district volunteers who didn’t hesitate to jump into action when this opportunity presented itself.”
On May 28, all indoor and outdoor events of any size and businesses of any capacity can increase to 75% capacity. Two weeks after that, final capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 end Friday, June 11.
The same day, the state will also eliminate the mask mandate for all Kentuckians with the exception of places where people are the most vulnerable.
The Governor said some capacity limits would be kept and the mask mandate would be in place until June 11 in order to give 12- to 15-year-old Kentuckians enough time to receive both doses of the vaccine before all restrictions are lifted.
Heather Bush, the mother of 13-year-old Layna Bush, an 8th grade student at Jessie Clark Middle School who was vaccinated Tuesday, said, “We are so excited. Layna is our youngest child and once she’s fully vaccinated, our whole family will have received the vaccine. We are glad this opportunity is open for her age group. We are also thankful that the process was made so convenient for us and that students can be vaccinated at schools.”
John and Shannon Sampson decided to have two of their children – 15-year-old Lauren Clay Sampson, a 10th grade student at Lafayette High School, and 13-year-old Ty Sampson, a 7th grade student at Jessie Clark Middle School – vaccinated Tuesday, stating that if their younger daughter, Sarah, was eligible, they would have signed her up as well.
“Like many other parents, we had heard concerns about the possible long-term effects on growing children, but we spoke at length with doctors we trust and feel comfortable with this decision,” Shannon Sampson said. “We’re doing it because we feel like it’s important. It’s a civic duty. We are certainly excited about the safety it provides for our children and our family, but we also believe this is part of safeguarding our entire community.”
Warren Kelvin Wilson III, a 10th grade student at Lafayette High School who was vaccinated at the clinic, said, “I’m getting vaccinated in order to do my part to protect those around me and help keep my family and friends safe. I’d like to encourage anyone feeling hesitant to do their research, rather than relying on hot takes on social media and unsubstantiated opinions. When you think about the bigger picture, you see that we all play a role in returning to normalcy and moving forward from this pandemic.”
Katie Grospitch, a 10th grade student at Lafayette High School who was vaccinated today, said, “I am getting vaccinated to do my part in helping stop the spread of the virus: to protect my grandparents, my family, friends and anyone I come into contact with in my community. I can stop worrying about possibly unknowingly spreading the virus and be part of getting things back to normal where we can travel, go to concerts and hang out with friends. I am excited to see my family members who live in other states very soon, too.”
Grospitch encouraged her fellow students to get vaccinated like she did, “Do it! It is a painless, simple and easy way to make a huge difference in your school and community. If we all do our part, it is the fastest way for all of us to get back to one of the things we have missed about school and activities: the social interaction! This is our moment to all come together and help get things back to normal.”
“I want to thank the students here today for all they have done and had to endure this past year, and for stepping up now to be part of the ultimate victory over COVID-19 in Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear.