Local officials discuss vaccine rollout, expanding availability
By Katie Pickens, Owensboro Times
Local officials on Thursday discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout — including expanding vaccine availability to Phase 1C, the effect of vaccines in long-term care facilities, and when quarantining is no longer needed.
The virtual meeting was hosted by Judge-Executive Al Mattingly and featured guests OH Chief Medical Officer Francis DuFrayne along with Green River District Health Department Director Clay Horton.
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Owensboro Health on Thursday opened its COVID-19 vaccination schedule to individuals aged 60- 69. According to DuFrayne, OH received 200 vaccine requests from that group within an hour of the announcement.
Earlier this week, the Health Department announced that they were expanding their vaccine ability to persons in Phase 1C — with an emphasis on those aged 60 and older — as quantities and appointment times allow. Horton said the GRDHD’s waiting list for those in the 1C group was getting longer by the day.
“We still want to prioritize that 1B population. But it becomes a lot more practical to add more folks [so we don’t lose the vaccines before they go bad],” he said. “Everyone else in 1C will be the very next step. I don’t have an exact date for you, but I think it’ll happen sooner than later.”
For now, Horton implored those still waiting for their first doses of the vaccine to be patient and ready for their opportunity.
With Kentucky continuing to receive more vaccines on a weekly basis, Horton guessed that openings would become available to everyone in the 1C group within the next month.
“The bottom line is, there’s not enough vaccine for everybody who wants it right now,” he said. “But we’re making tremendous progress across Kentucky. Stay informed, watch the phases, and watch for that opportunity, because it is coming sooner than later.”
Mattingly said that nearly all local residents in long-term care facilities — including assisted living facilities and nursing homes — had received their vaccinations.
Horton said the number of deaths across the state stemming from long-term care facilities had dropped from 70% to just more than 50% over the last month.
“We haven’t vaccinated nearly enough people to breathe a sigh of relief, but one thing we’ve really noticed is our fatality rates in long-term care facilities have really dropped off,” Horton said.
DuFrayne addressed when and when not to quarantine after receiving doses of the vaccine.
“As long as you get both shots and you’re not exposed [to the virus] 14 days after your second shot, you don’t have to quarantine,” he said. “Day 14-90, if you’ve received both shots, you don’t have to quarantine. With one shot, we don’t really believe you’re fully vaccinated. If you’re exposed after one shot, you do have to quarantine.”
He said those who’d been diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks should wait at least 90 days before getting the vaccine.
DuFrayne also said people should refrain from taking Tylenol or Advil prior to being vaccinated to allow the body to respond effectively to the treatment.
“We don’t want to affect your response,” he said. “Wait around 12 hours if you can before taking Tylenol or Advil after receiving your vaccine.”
With a number of COVID-19 variants circulating the globe and country, Horton said there was a good chance people would need to receive more booster shots in the future to protect themselves from a variety of COVID-19 strains.