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Kentucky leaders urge vaccinations as omicron variant hits US

During Gov. Beshear's weekly Team Kentucky briefing, the state leaders urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated to defend themselves against the omicron variant.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Going into the holiday season, Kentucky leaders shared updated data about COVID-19 and the new omicron variant at Governor Andy Beshear's weekly briefing Thursday.

Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said there are no known cases of the omicron variant in Kentucky, but it has been detected in the United States. 

Dr. Stack said the discovery of the new variant is not a reason to panic, but he urged Kentuckians to take the proper precautions.

"It is important to be careful and concerned," Dr. Stack said. "We have much better tools now than when this pandemic started... the future is not outside of our control."

State leaders said vaccination is the key to combating the new variant. Gov. Beshear said 60% of all Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 72% of all Kentuckians 18 years and older.

"We need to be proud of this accomplishment and use it as motivation to keep going," he said.

Both the governor and Dr. Stack stressed the importance of everyone getting vaccinated and, for those who are eligible, boosted. The state COVID-19 vaccine dashboard has now been updated to show the number of Kentuckians who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have received booster doses. The information can also be broken down by age and vaccine brand.

When it comes to testing, Dr. Stack said samples can be tested for different variants like delta and omicron, but the state's main focus is on vaccinations.

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