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Kentucky congressman highlights importance of COVID shots

August 14, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Thursday, May 14, 2020 file photo, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, Guthrie, who holds a key assignment over health policy, highlighted the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine as the delta variant spreads through communities. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 14, 2020 file photo, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, Guthrie, who holds a key assignment over health policy, highlighted the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine as the delta variant spreads through communities. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 14, 2020 file photo, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, Guthrie, who holds a key assignment over health policy, highlighted the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine as the delta variant spreads through communities. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Republican Kentucky congressman who holds a key assignment over health policy has highlighted the importance of getting the COVID-19 shots as the delta variant spreads through communities.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie emphasized that COVID-19 vaccines work. His statement on Friday came on the same day Kentucky reported 4,009 new coronavirus cases, its 10th-highest daily number of infections since the pandemic began. About a month ago, daily virus cases statewide had declined to about 200, but the highly contagious delta variant is fueling the new surge.

In his statement, Guthrie said: “The data from local health care providers and federal health agencies proves it. Unvaccinated patients represent the vast majority of hospitalizations from COVID-19 right now in Kentucky and across the country. With the delta variant relentlessly spreading through communities across the country, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19.”

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Guthrie has consistently touted the COVID-19 vaccines. The congressman urged people with questions about the vaccines to contact their health care providers.

Guthrie represents Kentucky’s Second Congressional District. The congressman serves as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.

More than 1,400 virus patients were hospitalized in Kentucky on Friday, including nearly 400 in intensive care units, and there were 12 more virus-related deaths, the state reported.

“Hospitals are filling up or are entirely full all across the commonwealth,” Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said in a video message Friday on social media.

About 54% of Kentucky’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19. With the delta variant spreading rapidly, the governor has warned that the unvaccinated are at greater risk than any time since the pandemic began. Also, the number of children infected with the virus has risen amid the delta variant outbreak. Children under age 12 aren’t eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, Americans at high risk of COVID-19 because of severely weakened immune systems are now allowed to get a third vaccination in hopes of better protection.

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that transplant recipients and other similarly immune-compromised patients can get a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The decision offers an extra dose only to those high-risk groups — not the general public. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grappled with who qualifies before endorsing the FDA’s decision.

Guthrie said the decision is “important for people who are organ transplant recipients, have certain cancers, or have other medical conditions that compromise their immune system.” It gives them an “extra layer of protection,” the congressman said.