FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has expanded its COVID-19 booster shot guidelines to recommend that Pfizer vaccine recipients who are 65 and older, long-term care residents or have medical conditions that increase their risk of severe coronavirus infection should receive a third dose six months after their second shot, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.

Pfizer recipients 18 to 64 who are likely to be exposed at their workplaces should also get a third shot, Beshear said. A third shot is recommended at least 28 days after the second shot for recipients of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine who are immunocompromised, such as those who are undergoing cancer treatment or who are taking a high dose of an immunosuppressant.

“What I want to do is clear up any confusion that’s out there and let you know who can get the boosters,” Beshear said at a virtual press briefing. “If you are eligible, go get them. There are plenty of vaccine doses out there.”

At this time, no booster dose is recommended for those that received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Beshear's announcement comes days after U.S. health officials endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older, in addition to younger people who are at higher risk from the coronavirus because of health conditions or their jobs.

Kentucky reported 6,463 coronavirus cases from Saturday to Monday and the state’s positivity rate has dropped to 10.55%, down from 10.99% on Friday.

The Democratic governor appeared cautiously optimistic about the dropping positivity rate and credited the state’s vaccination rate as a driver behind the recent decrease in cases.

“It appears that because of these vaccines, new cases may not only be plateauing, but we may be seeing a decrease in cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate,” Beshear said.

Roughly 71% of all eligible Kentuckians have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Hospitals are still feeling the brunt of the delta variant surge, he added, despite the state’s declining positivity rate. Approximately 71% of the state’s 96 hospitals have critical staffing shortages, and Monday, only 104 intensive care unit beds were available.

Five federal monoclonal antibody injection teams will arrive this week in Kentucky to provide treatment courses for patients with severe COVID-19. On Thursday, the state will launch a website with roughly 50 monoclonal antibody locations available, Beshear said.

Kentucky reported 19 COVID-19 related deaths Monday.

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Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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This story, first published on September 27, 2021, has been corrected to show that Kentucky’s updated COVID-19 booster shot guidelines recommend third shots to Pfizer recipients who are 65 and older, long-term care residents or people with medical conditions that increase their risk of severe coronavirus infection. A third shot is recommended at least 28 days after the second shot for recipients of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine who are immunocompromised.

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