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VACCINE TEAM | Q&A on benefit of being vaccinated, priority for those 60+

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:09 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As we continue to watch vaccines roll out across Kentucky, we are here to answer your questions on the vaccine.

What is the incentive for getting the vaccine? How long does immunity last and what happens then?

We did some research with the Centers for Disease Control.

It believes wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but that’s not enough.

Vaccines work with your immune system to fight the virus if you are exposed. Experts also believe vaccines may help keep you from getting seriously ill, if you get COVID-19.

Both vaccines being used now are highly effective. Based on clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was 95 percent effective. The Moderna vaccine was 94.1 percent effective.

How long a person’s immunity will last isn’t known yet. So at this time, it’s not known if or when someone would need a booster after their initial two shots.

Why are we not placing highest priority on those groups dying from the virus? Not only those 70 and over, but the group 60 and over plus those with underlying health conditions?

Before there was even an approved vaccine, the state started work on a vaccine distribution plan.

Knowing vaccine supplies would limited at first, the plan set priorities for who should be vaccinated first. While minimizing COVID-10 illnesses and deaths was the primary goal, it also took into consideration other factors such as “promoting economic and social wellbeing.”

Health care personnel and residents in long-care facilities were at the top of the list in what’s called Phase 1A. Then in Phase 1B, the state prioritized first responders, anyone 70 or over, and K-12 school personnel who were added to speed up the return to in-person learning.

As of February 15, the state’s COVID-19 vaccination priority remains Phase 1B persons aged 70 or older.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services says “as vaccine quantities and available appointment times allow” that people in Phase 1C may also be vaccinated. However, emphasis within that group right now should be given to people 60 and over.

The state estimates that it could be late summer before everyone in Phase 1C, which includes those 60 and over plus underlying health conditions and essential workers, will be vaccinated.

I’m over 60 and working as an essential worker. I’ve heard of several people in Phase 1C, who are younger and not working, have already received the first shot. Will the state prioritize people within Phase 1C?

Kentucky’s vaccination plan currently does not prioritize people within Phase 1C which is estimated to include more than one million people. Phase 1C includes anyone 60 or over, anyone 16 or older with high risk health conditions, and essential workers.

As vaccine quantities and available appointments allow right now, the state says Phase 1C people who are 60 and over should get an emphasis on getting those available shots. Finding an available appointments can be challenging with limited vaccine supplies compared to the number of people wanting vaccinations.

I’m on the list at the Bourbon County Health Department which says it doesn’t get enough vaccine. Why does the state keep opening vaccine centers when it can’t get enough vaccine for the ones they have?

In the rollout of vaccines, the state says its goal is to ensure everyone can get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

The state’s strategy also includes working with local health departments, building a network of high capacity regional sites, and ensuring people can get vaccinated near where they live.

The state’s supply is divided among local health departments based on the population of the county they serve. Hospitals, regional vaccination sites, and select Walmart and Kroger locations in the state.

Logistically, it’s a challenge compounded by limited vaccine supplies. Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require careful handling, specialized storage, and should not be transported once the vials are pierced.

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