Editor’s Note: Photos of Gov. Beshear and other leaders receiving vaccine available in link below. (Photo credit: Governor’s Communications Office)
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 22, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers, heads of the three branches of Kentucky government, each received their initial dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, ensuring the continuity of state government during this pandemic and demonstrating broad, bipartisan support for the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccination.
Their vaccinations follow the first vaccinations in Kentucky on Dec. 14, when the first round of hospitals began receiving and administering 38,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to front-line health care workers. On Monday, long-term care facility residents and staff began receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through Walgreens and CVS, which have an agreement with the federal government. This week, about 80 regional hospitals and more than 90 local health departments are receiving over 70,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to inoculate more health care workers.
Gov. Beshear, who has hailed the vaccines as a modern medical miracle, vowed for weeks to take the vaccine publicly if it was determined to be safe and effective. First Lady Britainy Beshear also received the vaccination Tuesday. Gov. Beshear said his children, Will, 11, and Lila, 10, will be vaccinated when it is approved for children.
“I would not risk my life or the life of my family, which I love more than life itself, if I didn’t believe this vaccine was safe and highly effective,” Gov. Beshear said. “These vaccines are a gift and our best vehicle to end this evil pandemic, allow our children and educators to safely return to school and reignite our economy.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended during a call Monday with governors that all governors be vaccinated in public as soon as possible.
Michelle Searcy, BSN, RN, school health supervisor with the Franklin County Health Department, administered the vaccines Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. Amy Cubellis, an RN and school health nurse in the county health department, administered the vaccine to Searcy.
“I appreciate the Governor’s request for the heads of the three branches of government to be vaccinated,” said Chief Justice Minton of Bowling Green, who was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in 2006 and is just the second justice in Kentucky to be chosen by fellow justices to serve four terms as chief justice. “I recognize this is a privilege most Americans don’t yet have, but Dr. Steven Stack and the Centers for Disease Control recommended that we get the vaccine to ensure the continuity of state government. I’ve already begun advocating for our judges, circuit clerks and deputy clerks to get the vaccine as soon as they’re eligible based on the federal distribution schedule. They’re essential workers who have frequent contact with the public and we want to ensure their safety as they conduct the important business of the courts. I appreciate the Kentucky Department for Public Health for keeping us updated on how the vaccine will be distributed in Kentucky.”
“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine signals an optimistic turning point in our fight against the virus,” said Senator Stivers of Manchester, who has served in the Senate since 1997. “This bipartisan group of leaders chose to take the vaccine together to send a message that the vaccine is safe and it is crucial for the health and welfare of the commonwealth. The importance of taking the vaccine cannot be overstated, because you are protecting yourself and your fellow Kentuckians. I encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.”
“This vaccine is a turning point in efforts to stop the spread of this virus as well as an example of what can be done when nations identify a common enemy and work to defeat it,” said Speaker Osborne of Prospect, who has served in the House since 2005. “The President’s investment in Operation Warp Speed made today possible, as did more than two decades of scientific study into mRNA technology across the globe. As health care workers and medical providers line up to receive theirs, Kentuckians should begin talking to their physicians about their plans to take the vaccine. We are here today because as leaders of all three branches of state government, we know there are those who question whether or not the vaccine is right for them. While it is a personal choice, we have full faith in its safety and supportive of the state’s work to make it available.”
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and J. Michael Brown, the highest appointed official in Kentucky as secretary of the executive cabinet, also received the initial dose of the vaccination against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on Tuesday.
Dr. Stack recommended leaders of each branch receive the vaccination to ensure continuity of government and promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“I’m grateful that the senior leaders of Kentucky’s government have come together today for a shot of hope and to lead through their example,” Dr. Stack said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a once-in-a-century nightmare for people throughout the commonwealth, but these vaccines offer new hope just in time for the holidays that 2021 will bring healthier, happier times.”
Gov. Beshear, Dr. Stack and the CDC prioritized front-line health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Long-term care residents account for two-thirds of COVID-related deaths in Kentucky.
Gov. Beshear encouraged other community leaders, including those in elected office, business executives and faith leaders, to take the vaccine when it is their turn. Meanwhile, until more people are vaccinated, the Governor said Kentuckians must continue to take precautions to slow the spread and save more Kentuckians from COVID, which has already killed more than 2,300 people in the commonwealth alone. People must continue wearing masks, social distance and avoid gatherings.
As of today, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered to more than 7,300 Kentuckians, predominantly health care workers. With both vaccines, a second dose is required about three weeks later. Gov. Beshear said Kentucky is expecting more than 150,000 doses of vaccine before the end of the month, with the second dose coming for each about three weeks later.
Photos of today’s event can be found here.