Kentuckians not on the front lines will likely have to wait around nine months before getting COVID-19 vaccine after initial distribution

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander says now, more than ever as cases climb and people return more to their typical daily lives, Kentuckians must not get too comfortable and should continue to limit contacts and do what is needed to keep themselves and others safe from COVID-19.

“We should probably be more uncomfortable today than we have ever been,” Friedlander said. “When you look at that curve of increasing cases, that is not the right shape. And we have not had that in Kentucky yet, but now we do. So even though we are tired, and even though businesses have really taken a hit, this is as critical of a time as we’ve faced.”

As the nation continues to struggle with the pandemic, there are more and more questions about when a vaccine will be available and when people will be able to get it.

Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, it will first be distributed by the state to those on the front lines including health care workers and others, according to a plan recently released by the state. It will then be expanded in phases but most Kentuckians probably be able to receive the vaccine until around nine months after first phase of distribution, Secretary Friedlander told The Bottom Line.

Because the vaccine will be in very limited quantities to begin with, roll out will be slow, Friedlander said. And with the potential for multiple versions of a vaccine and other variables, the state will face many unprecedented logistical struggles in distribution.

It is still unclear when the state and country will see a vaccine at all. Regardless, Friedlander said, there will be very limited quantities at first.

“We expect if we are doing well, it is a year roll out. Just because of the complexity. Each of the vaccines are two dose vaccines and they don’t all have the same time period of when you receive the first and second dose, you can’t start with one vaccine and finish with another, so the complexity of keeping up with all of that for individuals and for health care providers and systems is going to be probably the most difficult logistical challenge,” Friedlander said adding everything will depend on how quickly production is ramped up once the vaccine becomes available.

As for the cost, Friedlander stated he is not fully aware what that will look like currently, but so far, the federal government has said the vaccine will be paid for and people should not have to worry about their insurance or other payments.

Watch the full interview with Secretary Friedlander to hear more about what the roll out will look like, the struggles the state expects to face, addressing the safety concerns people have about a vaccine, and much more here:

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line to hear part two of The Bottom Line’s interview with Secretary Friedlander on a new Medicaid waiver next week.

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