Purchase District Health Department Director Kent Koster discusses mass vaccinations and the need for indoor inoculations.
Today’s meeting with city and county leaders in McCracken County discussed COVID-19 vaccine distribution for the purposes of keeping the public informed. Mayor George Bray, Judge Executive Craig Clymer and Director of the Purchase District Health Department Kent Koster were available on hand as disseminators of information and to answer questions. The format was by Zoom invite, YouTube video, or the city’s Facebook page.
Mayor Bray and Judge Clymer said the goal of the meeting was to give reliable information on COVID-19 vaccinations within our community. Safety being the first priority, local officials wish to provide residents with the best possible information and accept the responsibility of doing what’s best for its constituents. Bray said, "The state of Kentucky controls our vaccine, the amount of vaccine that we get, they allocate it to us."
Koster began by giving a high level look at what’s going on with the vaccines. He said there are 330 million Americans and two vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). There are 250 million Americans that are 18 and older. Of those 250 million, expectations are for 50 million to be vaccinated by March 1.
Next, Koster discussed the number of Kentuckians that are over 70 years of age. He said that the age group represents over 11% of the population. This group is three to four times more likely to be hospitalized, four times more likely to end up in the ICU, and this group represents 75% of the deaths. It’s easy to see, this group needs to be vaccinated.
Right now, Kentucky is in Phase 1A regarding vaccination groups. In this group, vaccination will go to long-term care residents and staff members. Distribution is being overseen by a national contract with CVS and Walgreens. Those in assisted living are also in Phase 1A. And, finally, frontline healthcare personnel.
Phase 1B will vaccinate those 70 years and older along with other first responders. Next on the list are the educators in grades K-12.
In our area, Lourdes-Mercy Health has received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to date. Each vial contains five doses. Koster said that they’ve actually been able to get six doses per vial therefore expanding the number of persons being vaccinated. As of January 6, 944 people have been vaccinated. Because there were additional doses per vial, additional first responders were vaccinated.
Lourdes has received their second shipment of the vaccine or the ‘booster’. Inoculations will begin Thursday.
Baptist Health Paducah has received 1,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine. There are 600 more doses expected this week. Baptist staff and healthcare workers have vaccinated 760 to date. Baptist will be vaccinating approximately 850 community healthcare workers and expect completion by the end of next week.
The Purchase District Health Department was allocated 200 doses and will have used them all by the first of this week. Another 400 will be ready to vaccinate next week.
Koster said he’s been in contact with Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Public Health about vaccinating WKCTC and Allied Health Services students. These students in the nursing program will help assist others with vaccinations in clinics.
There was some discussion on surrounding counties starting to vaccinate those in the 1B Phase but Koster said after discussing the situation with Dr. Stack, these counties won’t receive additional shipments of the vaccine until all 1A Phase groups are vaccinated in our immediate area.
Koster discussed mass vaccinations during this meeting. He said his hope is for mass vaccinations of 500 or more people per day will be possible when more populations are eligible for the vaccine. He said a more ideal situation would take place indoors. The drive-thru vaccination process isn’t ideal since patients have to be monitored for 15 minutes after being inoculated.
Also discussed was the need for local physicians to get registered with the KYIR (Kentucky Immunization Registry) to set up providers to vaccinate their patients. Koster’s hope is for 65% of the population of Kentucky to be vaccinated by the end of June.
If your questions weren't answered today, Judge Clymer said they would be getting to the public individually or by podcast.