Gov. Andy Beshear just signed an executive order expanding the eligibility for COVID booster shots in Kentucky.
Now, everyone in the Commonwealth who is over 18 years of age and at least six months past the second dose of a Moderna of Pfizer vaccine or two months past the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved for a booster. This extends to everyone who works in Kentucky as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended booster shots for those 65 and older or those with underlying health issues or certain jobs, and that has been Kentucky’s guidance until today.
In a video message, Beshear (who folksily refers to himself as Andy), says his decision to encourage all adults to get their booster comes after seeing a spike in COVID cases in Europe as well as a concerning trend in Kentucky’s case numbers, positivity rate and hospitalizations, which have “plateaued, if not ticked up a little bit,” he says.
“We are moving into the amazing holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas and other gatherings, which just last year proved that it can potentially be deadly,” Beshear says, referring to the spike in cases after last year’s holidays. “Because of that, it’s more important than ever that we get people not just vaccinated but we get people their booster to push your immunity up to the highest levels, because over time that immunity wanes.”
Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico and West Virginia have also expanded their booster shot eligibility. Ohio has not.
According to a release, more than 437,000 Kentuckians had received a booster as of Nov. 17. The state’s current positivity rate is 5.73% and all counties in Northern Kentucky,except Campbell, are listed as having a high incidence rate of the virus — that means more than 25 COVID cases per 100,000 people. (Campbell County is listed as orange, with 23.8 cases per 100,000.)
“Folks, you really need to get vaccinated,” Beshear says.
The CDC says individuals can mix-and-match their booster, opting for a different company than the one that manufactured the initial vaccine that they received. Some have wanted a different followup dose due to adverse reactions to a certain vaccine. Others have been concerned about the J&J shot, which studies have shown to have a lower efficacy against infection compared to the ones from Pfizer and Moderna.
The three COVID vaccines “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, has said.
Watch Beshear’s message below:
This story was originally published by our sister publication, the Cincinnati CityBeat. You can find the rest of their work here.