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'The benefits outweigh those concerns' | Louisvillians in phase 1B look forward to getting COVID-19 vaccine

This phase includes first responders, corrections officers, essential utility workers, anyone age 70 or older and K-12 school personnel.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Public Health Interim Medical Director Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage announced that Jefferson County is now moving into Phase 1B of the Commonwealth's vaccine plan beginning next week.

This phase includes first responders, corrections officers, essential utility workers, anyone age 70 or older and K-12 school personnel.

"We're really distinguishing ourselves among the cities of America and the states of America with what we're doing with getting these vaccines out as quickly as possible can," Fischer said.

Signups for Jefferson Co. residents over the age of 70 to receive the vaccine began Friday and the first appointments will be available on Jan. 19.

Hartlage noted that local hospitals will be carrying the major share of vaccination efforts for these individuals.

“I kind of feel like I won the lottery,” said Pam Catlett. She and her husband both scored appointments for next Thursday.

“I never in my life thought I'd be happy about getting a shot, but I am,” she exclaimed.

Patty Hottell said she is equally excited for her appointment on January 28th.

“Once I got an appointment, I felt better, because I thought, okay, there is hope,” she said.

There are 100,000 people in this age group in Louisville. There won’t be any priority given for seniors with preexisting conditions, but the health department has taken some factors into consideration when making appointments.

“We are using an equity lens to try and focus on zip codes that have been hit the hardest from COVID and areas of the city that we know are disadvantaged and struggle with health care access,” Dr. Hartlage said.

Both Catlett and Hottell are getting their vaccines through Norton Healthcare, nut the drive-thru site at Broadbent Arena will provide the shot for folks as well.

This is the second week the site has been in use, and about 6,000 people were vaccinated at the site by the end of the Friday. Close to 30,000 doses have been given to residents of Jefferson County.

“Maybe those of us that are getting it and don't show any side effects can really help other people to be encouraged to get it. Maybe that's our role,” said Catlett.

There are less than 10,000 appointments available next week, but more slots will open up as the state allocates more vaccine doses.

“I know some people are concerned about taking the vaccine, but all I want to say it the benefits outweigh those concerns, because I know people who have COVID. It's horrible,” said Hottell.

It will likely take three months to vaccinate people in Tier 1B, according to Metro Health.

To find vaccine appointments for individuals over 70 visit Louisville Metro's COVID-19 website and click the 'Vaccine' tab. Individuals will find appointments available from local hospitals like Norton Healthcare, UofL Health and Baptist Health.

All sites are operating by appointment only, based on the vaccine availability in the Metro area.

Harlage expects the number of available appointments for this group to be 10,000 per week. There already 30,000 people on the interest list.

For more information on vaccination efforts and sign-up appointments for Phase 1B, click here.

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