Kentucky General Assembly

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear speaks to the press at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

(The Center Square) - Kentucky’s first responders, educators and residents ages 70 and older will be the ones next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, state officials said. 

Those populations are considered to be in the state’s Phase 1B group and should be able to get vaccinated starting around the beginning of February, Gov. Andy Beshear said. 

Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said those guidelines skew slightly from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends seniors 75 and up should be next in line. 

“We believe here, because we have such a disproportionate burden of death in this population, we want to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible,” Stack said. “We are also going to include first responders who haven’t been vaccinated in phase 1a already, as well as K-12 school personnel.” 

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 75.2% of the state’s 2,594 COVID-related deaths have been in people aged 70 or older. However, that age group makes up just 11.9 percent of 261,492 individuals who have tested positive statewide. 

Vaccinating teachers and other school staff has been considered a step essential in reopening all schools across the state for full-time classroom instruction. In November, Beshear ordered all schools, public and private, to switch to remote-only learning.  

Two weeks ago, Beshear signed an executive order that laid out how schools could reopen beginning in January. He urged those districts that reopen classrooms to do so no earlier than Jan. 11. He also strongly recommended counties where there are more than 25 new cases daily per 100,000 people to consider staying with just remote learning. 

Some districts, like Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, have remained exclusively in remote learning since schools were shut down for classroom instruction back in March. 

Currently, the state is working to vaccinate front-line health care workers as well as all long-term care residents and staff. Stack has estimated those groups account for about 200,000 people. 

Through Tuesday, according to the state’s COVID vaccine monitoring website, Kentucky has received 107,525 doses of the vaccines. Of those, 28,938 have already been administered.