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Louisville COVID-19 testing sites prepare to administer first round of vaccine

Kentuckians are expected to receive the vaccine as early as Tuesday, with UofL Health receiving 975 doses in their first shipment.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than eight months after UofL Health opened Kentucky's first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, experts are preparing to administer the vaccine. 

The woman behind the testing location at Brook and Liberty, UofL Chief Nurse Cindy Lucchese, said they've tested more than 50,000 people since March.

"I thought it was so important that we test so that we could encourage anyone who had this virus to isolate, not go to work, stay away from family as much as possible, and knowing I could contribute to that is why I got involved," Lucchese said.

Now, Lucchese said they're ready to provide the Pfizer vaccine through the same testing sites — first to healthcare workers and then to the rest of the public when it's available.

Kentuckians are expected to receive the vaccine as early as Tuesday, with UofL Health receiving a shipment of 975 doses after the FDA gives emergency use authorization.

"It's been proven safe and effective, and it's what we need to be able to see our lives ones and get back to somewhat of a normal," Lucchese said.

Lucchese knows firsthand how this virus can impact a person, having tested positive for COVID-19 in November.

"Thankfully my symptoms were mild, I had a headache and just some sinus congestion," Lucchese said.

Still, Lucchese had underlying conditions. Determined to get better, she was one of 43 people to take UofL's antibody infusion treatment, Bamlanivimab.

It is for early disease treatment in select high-risk patients, and is currently offered at UofL Health – Medical Center East, and Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. 

"It stops the virus from entering your cells, so once I researched it and talked to my physician, I felt a little bit more comfortable," Lucchese said.

Medistar's "Nurse of the Year" is back on the job now, helping others and doing her best to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday season.

Dr. Alok Amraotkar with the UofL School of Medicine spent his Thursday at the Co-Immunity Project COVID-19 testing site at St. Simon & Jude Catholic Church. 

The drive-thru in South Louisville aims to test 200 people a day. They also test people for antibodies. 

"A lot more people are now wanting to get tested, than previously," Amraotkar explained. 

Like Lucchese, Amraotkar said he feels comfortable getting the vaccine when it is available.

Health officials continue to encourage people to follow CDC guidelines as the first shipments of vaccines get sent out and holidays near.

RELATED: First shipment of COVID-19 vaccine kits delivered by UPS

RELATED: UofL Health prepares for Pfizer vaccine shipments as early as next week, if FDA gives emergency approval

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