One week after its opening, Gov. Andy Beshear toured the new Kroger coronavirus vaccination site at the Greenwood Mall, touting a broader statewide system of similar centers “that is months ahead of where we reasonably could have anticipated being at this point.”
It’s part of the state’s goal to ensure Kentuckians don’t have to travel far to get the coronavirus vaccine, albeit once it’s more widely available. Kentucky is gearing up for broader vaccine distribution as part of phase 1C, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes more than 110 million people nationwide.
“We believe, in most areas of the state, that we will certainly be to 1C by the beginning of March, if not, potentially before then,” Beshear told local media Friday during his visit to the site, which is located in the space that Sears previously occupied.
As he spoke to reporters, local elected officials and others gathered for the event, dozens of people lined up on the sidewalk outside waiting for their chance to get in and get vaccinated.
Phase 1C includes all essential workers – including faculty and staff at Western Kentucky University, for example – and people between the ages of 16 and 64 with medical conditions that put them at greater risk for severe COVID-19, according to the CDC.
It also includes people with disabilities or developmental delays who don’t live in congregant, group-home settings, Beshear told the Daily News.
“Some of our 70 and older seniors are in harder-to-reach areas,” Beshear said, adding the state is considering “moving some sites – larger regional sites – to 1C while we allow some others to more specifically target our vulnerable populations that are in 1B,” Beshear said.
At least one Kentucky location has already moved to phase 1C for vaccine distribution. A University of Kentucky spokesman told the Courier-Journal in Louisville on Friday that has occurred. People can request appointments online but limited vaccine supply remains an issue.
For Kentuckians who live in isolated areas or don’t drive, Beshear said the state is working with local health departments and using “pop-up clinics in different parts of the state, especially to promote equity and to bring the vaccine to people.”
Beshear added that increasingly more Kentuckians who are 70 years or older are becoming vaccinated, with more than 200,000 people in that group receiving vaccines so far.
Those 60 and older, “are in 1C, and when we move to 1C they will be a focus,” Beshear said.
Since its opening on Feb. 12, the Kroger site has administered some 2,300 vaccines. The site is one of several large, regional locations set up across the state.
By this week, a total of 291 vaccination sites will be operational across the commonwealth, Beshear previously said Thursday, announcing several new locations. To find a nearby site, state officials have urged Kentuckians to go online to vaccine.ky.gov for more information.
Beshear said Thursday during his virtual coronavirus briefing from Frankfort that 555,373 Kentuckians have been vaccinated, including initial doses at all of Kentucky’s long-term care facilities.
Vaccine supply continues to be an obstacle to expanding access – a message that Beshear has repeated many times this month when pressed about a more rapid rollout of the vaccine.
“We have so many providers wanting to provide the vaccine. We just don’t have enough vaccines. We did the math the other day, and if we were able to send it to everybody who for the right reasons wants to provide it, everybody would get about 30 doses,” Beshear said.