Beshear says Ky. data prove vaccines work; asks younger Kentuckians, who make up most new cases, to get vaccinated

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, May 26, 2021

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
At his only announced pandemic press briefing of the week, Gov. Andy Beshear shared Kentucky data that shows how well coronavirus vaccines work, and again implored younger Kentuckians to go get one.
First, he showed how deaths related to Covid-19 have plummeted since Kentuckians have been able to get vaccinated, falling from a high of 1,672 deaths in December, when the first vaccines became available to some, to only 56 in May, with less than a week left in the month.
In March and April, of the people who tested positive for the virus in Kentucky, 97.5% were not vaccinated; of those who were hospitalized, 94.3% of them were not vaccinated; and of all the Covid-related deaths, 94.4% were not vaccinated, Beshear said.
“These things work,” he said. “Yes, they are not 100% effective, but when you look at these numbers, they are much more than 90% effective. Folks, these vaccines have earned an A, and we all ought to recognize that and take them. Those are incredible numbers that show just how effective the vaccines are.”
So far, 2,006,742 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, which amounts to 45% of the total population or 56% of the adult population.
Beshear said he was proud to see an increase in the number of people who got a first dose of a vaccine last week, up nearly double from the prior week, to 74,553.
He said 23,409 12- to 15-year-olds have received at least one dose of a vaccine since it became available to them, and “You want to keep that up.”
Moderna announced today that its early trials show the vaccine is 100% effective for 12- to 17-year-olds and said it will seek emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand its use in teens. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved for that age group.
Beshear said if the Moderna vaccine is approved for this age group, it will help get them vaccinated before school starts in the fall.
The weekly federal pandemic report for Kentucky shows its share of fully vaccinated people has dropped from 27th to 31st among the states in the last three weeks. Asked why, and what the state is doing about it, Beshear and Health Commissioner Steven Stack pointed to lack of second doses.
Stack said coming back for that second shot is “very important” in order to be fully protected and for it to last longer. He added that just because it looks like we are resuming normal activities, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to get that second shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that as of May 21, 37% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated. Nationwide, 50% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated. 
Prisons: Beshear announced that the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice will resume in-person visitation the week of June 20. It has been stopped since the pandemic began.
He said visitation will open by appointment to fully vaccinated family and friends of inmates. A state news release says available times will be published on the agencies’ websites June 4. Beshear said 76% of adult inmates have been vaccinated, and vaccines will be offered to new inmates and those who originally declined one.