State officials decided first responders, K-12 teachers and Kentuckians older than 70 will be contained in the next phase of vaccinations set to start in late January or early February.

Mostly following an overview supplied by federal recommendations, officials further subdivided the next groups to have accessibility vaccine by having an focus on preventing deaths.

Federal guidelines have recommended that individuals over 75 ought to be within the next group to get the vaccine, but Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says Kentuckians older than 70 should be the state's next priority.

They represent about 75% from the reported COVID-19 deaths in the state making in the largest quantity of hospitalizations, Stack said. Helping people over the age of 70 will ease the responsibility on hospitals and as a result benefit everyone, he said.

“By helping to protect this population, clearly we assistance to provide them some protections from these great harms, but additionally it helps to help keep people out of the hospital with COVID-19,” Stack said.

Kentucky is expected to receive more than 200,000 doses from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before the end of 2021.

The first doses of vaccine are reserved for group 1a, which includes healthcare personnel employed in clinical care settings and staff and residents in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

The federal government has contracted Walgreens and CVS to administer vaccinations in those settings. As of Monday, they've vaccinated more than 5,500 Kentuckians.

With the 2nd phase, known as 1b, Stack said officials sought to balance the preservation of life with social functioning. The problem is that the size of the government government's recommendations for who should be included in the second phase far outstrips the amount of available vaccinations.

So, the state further subdivided the 2nd phase: quickly the age of 70, first responders including police and firefighters, and K-12 personnel including teachers, janitors and bus drivers.

“We're trying to get these locations safe,” Stack said.

Kentucky COVID Case Numbers

Kentucky reported 1,455 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 8 new deaths. However, the information likely undercounts the true number of cases.

First, some labs closed for the holidays. Second, the Xmas day bombing in Nashville knocked out internet and cell service in several states including Kentucky. Beshear said there may be a backlog of entries consequently.

Despite the information limitations, Beshear said COVID-19 is within its fourth week of decline in the state. Both hospitalizations and newly reported cases are at their lowest since Nov. 8th, he said.

“So you can see it in the cases, you can see it in the positivity rate, you can observe it within the hospital census, and you may view it within the ICU census, all showing we have been successful and yes I know it took sacrifice.”

Beshear credited November's additional shutdown measures for assisting in the decline.