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Beshear promotes COVID-19 boosters ahead of Thanksgiving

November 18, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A week ahead of Thanksgiving, vaccinated Kentuckians should make sure to get a booster shot to help ward off another surge of coronavirus cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

“We have more tools approaching Thanksgiving than ever before, and more people eligible,” the Democratic governor said at a virtual news briefing. “Make sure that when you sit down at that Thanksgiving table with the people you love, you have the highest level of immunity to protect them.”

Kentucky recently joined other states in opening up booster shots to all adults despite federal recommendations that states limit doses to those considered most at risk.

Beshear signed an executive order Wednesday that made adults living and working in Kentucky eligible for a booster shot six months after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, or two months after a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

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As of Wednesday, some 446,698 Kentuckians have had a booster shot.

Beshear’s announcement comes as Kentucky experiences a slight uptick in cases after weeks of decline: the number of total cases last week was higher than the previous two weeks. The state’s test positivity rate has also risen to 6.18% from 5.51% last Thursday, furthering concerns about the waning immunity of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Waning immunity is real. We are seeing more people who’ve been vaccinated in the hospital, especially six months after their second shot,” Beshear said.

Hospitals in Kentucky continue to be stressed by the plateau of new cases. For instance, eight of ten of the state’s hospital regions have Intensive Care Unit capacity at or above 87%, with only 140 beds available statewide.

Kentucky reported 1,855 new coronavirus cases and 40 virus-related deaths Thursday. Roughly 27% of new cases were of new cases were school-age children.

According to state data, 58% of the total state population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.