McCracken Co. Healthcare Officials Report First Phase Vaccine Distribution Underway
McCracken County community and healthcare leaders hosted a virtual conference this afternoon to discuss progress of the ongoing vaccination rollout in Paducah, and encourage the community to continue to be vigilant in health safety measures.
Purchase District Health Department Director Kent Koster said Mercy Health Lourdes Hospital in Paducah will have vaccinated around 944 people by the end of the day and Baptist Health Paducah Hospital will have administered around 760 doses by the end of the day. He said Baptist Paducah anticipates administering 650 more doses by this weekend.
As part of the Phase 1a vaccine rollout, Koster said frontline healthcare workers and first responders are receiving the vaccine. As of today, he confirmed, he’s received no reports of adverse reactions to the vaccine in the region served by his department.
Koster acknowledged there’s still hesitancy with some members of the community, saying polling data suggests around 50% of those surveyed indicate they’re ready to take the vaccine when offered.
“I would assume it would probably be higher in a healthcare setting since it’s those individuals who are having to deal with COVID-19 on a daily basis and see what people are having to experience that have this virus,” he added. “I think the process that our research companies have gone through have followed all the CDC guidelines and there’s some great assurance there that [the vaccines] are safe. I personally feel like they’re safe.”
McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer also spoke to the safety of the vaccine. He acknowledged he’s not a medical professional and instead spoke from what he called a “general legal” standpoint informed by decades of legal experience.
“No company is going to put out a product, particularly one that’s being as publicized and widespread across, well the world, without having a great deal of confidence that they’re not putting out something that’s going to cause them harm and make them liable under products liability law,” he explained. “These companies are not going to put out a product that is going to injure people and face that risk of liability in my opinion, my experience.”
Clymer encouraged the community to remain “vigilant” in preventative measures such as personal hygiene and wearing masks. He said he’s concerned about businesses in the community who make no effort to require customers to wear masks, and some of whom don’t themselves wear masks.
“Just to be blunt, that’s both irresponsible and reckless, and it’s unfair to the other businesses who try to do the right thing,” he said. “And please consider that it’s the wearing of masks and social distancing that allows businesses to be open and remain open. We don’t want to risk going back to business shutdowns and shutting down the economy.”
Koster estimated Kentucky would be ready for Phase 1b in three or four weeks, and reported predictions indicate half of Kentucky’s residents could be inoculated by the end of June if the phases remain on target.
Koster said healthcare officials are also beginning to consider mass distribution as the other phases begin to roll out. He noted there were several drive-through flu vaccine clinics held in the fall, but said that’s not a great solution for the COVID-19 vaccine. He said healthcare workers have to be able to monitor each recipient for at least 15 minutes after they’ve been inoculated, and that would be difficult to do if they’re all in vehicles. He said it would likely require a large, open, indoor space.