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'I knew it was gonna be coming'| Immunocompromised community getting COVID-19 booster shots in Louisville

Norton Healthcare says at least a couple of its cancer patients got the third shot as recently as Tuesday. And one Hurstbourne woman isn't wasting any time either.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The push to protect the most vulnerable is hitting another gear.

Efforts are already being made in Louisville to get booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are immunocompromised, and several are already taking up the opportunity.

This comes as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack recommended select groups get their third doses as quickly as possible. This also comes just days after the FDA & CDC authorized Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines for this purpose.

Norton Healthcare says at least a couple of its cancer patients got the third shot as recently as Tuesday.

And one Hurstbourne woman wasting no time either.

For Jenna Parrett, there are routines she does for fun.

"Biking for sure, in the evening after the sun's gone down," said Parrett, who's lived in Hurstbourne for more than four years.

They are also conscious choices she makes not just to stay healthy, but to feel like herself.

"You have a lot of symptoms that come on at once. It can be debilitating, but then those symptoms can go away. You never know when they're gonna come back," Parrett said.

Now, she's made another one.

"For the booster, there had been chatter about it for a while, so I knew it was gonna be coming," Parrett said.

Thousands of immunocompromised people, like cancer patients and transplant recipients, have the OK to get a booster shot against COVID.

On Tuesday, Kentucky state leaders pushing that they do just that.

"Every resident in a long-term care facility is to be eligible under this criteria," Dr. Stack said.

Louisville doctors are just as urgent, trying to spread the word: Saying it's another dose of the same vaccine -- aimed at boosting immunity.

"It just gives us more protection," said Dr. Joseph Flynn, Chief Administrative Officer at Norton Medical Group and Physician-in-Chief at Norton Cancer Institute at Norton Healthcare. "As we got further out, their ability to have enough antibodies circulating diminished enough, and when they got this third booster, they have a five-to-11 fold increase in mutualizing antibodies."

For Parrett, her qualification is multiple sclerosis, or MS.

"You plan a vacation, and you have no idea if sometime before then you're suddenly not going to have feeling in your legs or you're going to lose vision in an eye," Parrett said.

Diagnosed in 2018, Parrett faces the realities of nerve damage -- and a weakened defense where COVID-19 bares its biggest threat.

"The medication I'm specifically on is a B-cell depleting agent, so I have no B-cells, and that's a key component to your immune system," she said.

RELATED: Who can get a third COVID shot in Kentucky?

Parrett explained why getting shot No. 3 was as quick a decision for her, as it was for shots one and two.

"It's the same product. Nothing different to it, just giving your body an extra oomph to fight the virus," Parrett said.

Parrett is calling for others in a similarly boat to do the same.

Health officials like Dr. Flynn say this process isn't any more complicated than getting the first two shots.

But those wanting J&J's booster will have to wait for now. Researchers are still looking into that data.

As far as a plan for Norton Healthcare workers to get booster shots, Dr. Flynn said they're prepared with the supply once given the green light -- especially since many nurses & doctors are approaching their 8-month marks since getting their second doses. That's the timing health leaders are expected to use as the criteria.

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