Almost a week after Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers each received their initial dose of the Moderna vaccine, Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles issued a statement saying that while he plans to take the COVID-19 vaccine, he will wait until it is more widely available to Kentuckians who need it most.
"I plan on taking the vaccine, but I will wait for my turn in line,” said Quarles. “Though I appreciate the Governor’s invitation, as a healthy 37-year old man with no underlying conditions I would rather my early access vaccine be given to a high-risk individual like a frontline worker or a resident of a long-term care facility, two groups who have unfortunately borne the brunt of the coronavirus.
I understand the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that officials like the Governor and top legislators be vaccinated for the sake of government continuity, but I do not believe rank-and-file politicians should be leapfrogging over those who are at higher risk of infection. I want to thank President Trump, Vice President Pence, and our medical professionals for their work through Operation Warp Speed to produce this modern day miracle, a safe and effective vaccine. But if it means saving one more life, I will wait in line just like everyone else.”
The vaccinations of state officials 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. 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.
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. 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 that all governors be vaccinated in public as soon as possible and Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner for Public Health, recommended leaders of each branch receive the vaccination to ensure continuity of government and promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
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.
Gov. Beshear said Kentucky is expecting more than 150,000 doses of vaccine before the end of the year, with the second dose coming for each about three weeks later.