Vaccine eligibility opening Monday to Kentuckians 16 and older

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Starting Monday, Kentuckians age 18 and up will be eligible for the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and those as young as 16 years old can sign up for the Pfizer vaccine.

Gov. Beshear announced the expansion Wednesday.

“We are seeing in a number of states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, and others, an increase in cases, an increase in hospitalizations, and it’s happening amongst younger people,” Beshear said Wednesday. “What we’re seeing is the vaccines work in older Americans that have gotten it. We’re seeing more younger Americans ending up in the hospital. This, we believe, is because of the more aggressive variants.”

When Beshear originally announced expansion plans, the target date for expanding to younger populations was April 12. The earlier rollout still beats deadlines set by the Biden administration who said last week, 90 percent of Americans would have access to the shots by April 19.

“We know young people tend to have lesser symptoms, but can still spread it just as much,” said Lexington doctor, Ryan Stanton. “The risk of being the source of a super spreader within a household or a family is very possible. We need to find every way that we can block this off, and not allow it to spread.”

Dr. Stanton says he believes the eligibility will expand to young children by year’s end, citing a recent trial by Pfizer that studied the vaccine children as young as 12 years old.

“It’s showing incredible protection, fantastic safety, it’s even performing better,” said Stanton. “In their trial, of the 2,000 children, zero who got the vaccine got COVID. Eighteen who didn’t get it, got COVID. So it definitely shows significant protection.”

In Pfizer’s report of their findings, the CEO Albert Bourla says, “We plan to submit these data to FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.”

Stanton says he believes within the next six months, the vaccine will be approved for children as young as newborns.

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