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Louisville Lays Out Plans For First Mass Vaccination Site

Ryan Van Velzer
Louisville Public Media

Louisville will open its first drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site at Broadbent Arena at the Kentucky Expo Center next week. The mass vaccination site will initially be for healthcare workers, EMTs and medical first responders, not the general public.

SarahBeth Hartlage, interim medical director at the Louisville department of health and wellness, said the health department administered 110 vaccines on Monday. Once the Broadbent site is up and running, daily capacity could increase significantly.

“When the site is running at full capacity, we anticipate at least 600 people per dose, per day, which is to say 600 first doses and 600 second doses,” she said.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the only two approved in the United States, require an initial dose followed by a booster a few weeks later.

On Monday, Kentucky’s public health commissioner Steven Stack laid out how the state will allocate vaccines for future phases of distribution, with a focus on people over the age of 70, first responders and K-12 teachers.

In line with the state’s projections, Hartlage said it will be a few more weeks before Louisville is ready to enter the next phase of vaccinations.

Those who receive vaccinations at the Broadbent Arena site will be asked to park their cars and wait a short period to monitor for reactions, though Hartlage said the health department has not seen anyone experience severe side effects.

There have been few severe reactions reported across the country since vaccinations began earlier this month. Hartlage said there will be nurses, EMTs and resources for managing medical emergencies on site.

Hartlage encouraged medical workers who are not affiliated with a hospital system to reach out to the health department to schedule their vaccination by emailing Hospital systems are providing vaccines to their employees.

Despite a potential ramp-up of vaccines in the coming weeks and months, Hartlage said current vaccine availability could mean young, healthy people may not be eligible until late summer or early fall.

She and Mayor Greg Fischer encouraged Louisville residents to continue taking precautions, particularly when celebrating New Year’s Eve this week.

Hartlage said New Year’s Eve has the potential to be another super-spreader event. It’s too soon to know how many infections Christmas gatherings produced, in part because back-to-back holidays have affected lab schedules.

She said people should be careful if they do meet with members of other households.

“If you are planning to travel to see relatives again we recommend that you quarantine before and after, get tested before and after,” she said.

Hartlage said anyone with symptoms should cancel their New Year’s plans to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.

Louisville reported its third consecutive week of declining case numbers, with about 2,500 cases for the week ending Dec. 26. Hartlage said that decrease could be related to lab delays or lack of testing due to Christmas.

The city reported 19 COVID-related deaths in the last week, again lower than previous weeks.

Hartlage warned there could be a “rebound” in cases and deaths reported in the coming weeks following the holidays.

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