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A vaccine surplus: Area health departments expanding clinic age requirements

Posted at 3:30 PM, Mar 22, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A vaccine surplus was not something health officials expected to have just 90 days after the roll-out.

“This is a great problem, because it shows the wide availability of the vaccine, assuming there are still people wanting it,” said Kevin Hall, communications director at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

And with about 500 slots open for Wednesday's vaccination clinic, Hall said the health department will open registration to Kentucky residents outside of phases 1A through 1C.

“Right now, to reach more people, it is 18 and older who live and work in Lexington,” he said.

The situation is much the same in Scott County where WEDCO services the residents of several counties in the area.

“We want to get the shots we have into arms,” said Dr. Crystal Miller.

As a result of that, Miller said their multi-county clinics have also been expanded to include additional age groups, but she is shocked to be in this position in mid-March.

“The supply is greater than the demand at this point and that is early for is. We didn’t think we’d be there at this point,” she said.

Miller is concerned, as is Hall, that perhaps we’ve reached, or are closing in on a faction of society that will simply shun this vaccine.

“That is a great concern to us in the public health world, that there may be people out there who just aren’t interested in getting the vaccine,” Miller said.

Experts feel as if we need to vaccinate 80 percent of the population to reach a form of community immunity. If we end up around 60-65 percent, it would be a major stumbling block to achieving that herd immunity.

“Education (about vaccine safety) is the key. We need people understanding what they’re doing and why they’re doing it for us to get back to the life we all want to live,” Miller said.

Gov. Beshear was asked about the concerns over demand at his COVID-19 briefing Monday.

"I'm not concerned yet," he said. "Where we are is needing to be, if you can, in the Goldilocks zone."

The vaccine rollout can't be too fast or slow, he said.

"What we need to do is to try to hit this right to try to expand it at the right amount of time," Gov. Beshear said.

Opening vaccine eligibility to all Kentucky adults at this point could cause providers to be overwhelmed with calls, he said. It could also make booking an appointment more difficult.

"We want to avoid that," he said.