WMKY

As New COVID-19 Cases Decline, State Focuses on Equitable Vaccine Access

Feb 9, 2021

Credit WFSU

As new cases continue to decline, Gov. Beshear said the state is working to address equitable vaccine access.

The Governor updated Kentuckians on the demographics of those vaccinated.

“One thing to note when you look at the vaccine demographic data: we have more individuals in long-term care under 70 than I had ever imagined,” said Gov. Beshear. “With that said, we need to continue to prioritize those 70 and older.

“Right now, more women than men have been vaccinated, but we suspect that reflects the health care and education sectors that have been in earlier phases. I think this will even out more when we get to Phase 1C.

“Black and African American Kentuckians, to date, have received about 4.3% of vaccinations where we know the person’s race. That is unacceptable. It needs to be closer to 8%, at least. About 1.1% of vaccines where ethnicity is known have gone to our Hispanic population – also too low.

“We’re going to produce this data every week so we can track our progress and be held accountable.”

The Governor said addressing equity in vaccine distribution requires looking at three root causes: programmatic causes, as the state needs to take additional, intentional steps to make vaccination programs more equitable; societal causes, because minority Kentuckians are not equally represented in medicine and education, so they were underrepresented among the first to be vaccinated; and historic causes of vaccine hesitancy among minority Kentuckians.

“Our underserved and minority populations haven’t been treated right in the past when it comes to vaccines, or even experimentation,” said Gov. Beshear. “From the beginning, we knew Black and Latinx people were more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccination. We’re committed to addressing these concerns.”

“We look forward to expanding our network of partners in this effort and working to reach people who need access to this vaccine and need a little extra assistance in getting it, so they can have the same benefit as everyone else,” said public health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

The Governor also announced the state’s positivity rate has decreased to the lowest it has been since Nov. 10 and Kentucky has now had four straight weeks of declining test positivity and weekly cases.

“The trends are all moving in the right direction, but that only happens from your hard work. We must keep this up because we do not want to lose this progress,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor said for the fifth straight week, the state has distributed more vaccines than it received in first doses from the federal government. Of all the first doses the state has received, 91% are already in a Kentuckians’ arms.

Kentucky has received 490,975 COVID-19 initial vaccine doses and 444,930 Kentuckians have received their first vaccine dose.

The state’s vaccination program has received 410,050 first doses and administered 375,728.

The federal long-term care vaccination program run through CVS and Walgreens has sent 80,925 first doses to Kentucky and the program has administered 69,202.

The federal government has vaccinated 17,186 Kentuckians as well, in the Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration and in the Department of Defense.

The new federal pharmacy vaccination program will also start at the end of this week. It has two major partners in the state: a number of Walgreens locations and a large group of independent pharmacies.

“Walgreens is a great partner, but it didn’t have sufficient coverage in rural Kentucky, so we advocated for the program to include independent pharmacies, too,” said Gov. Beshear.

For more information on who is currently eligible for the vaccine in Kentucky, visit http://vaccine.ky.gov or call 855-598-2246. Deaf or hard of hearing Kentuckians can call TTY 855-326-4654.

(provided by the Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)