LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Halloween is just over a month away and while a COVID-19 vaccine may be on the way for younger kids, Louisville health leaders say it won't come fast enough to have a completely normal holiday.
Dr. Sarah Beth Hartlage, the Interim Medical Director with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said Tuesday the recommendations for Halloween will likely be similar to last year. Outdoor activities are relatively safe, especially while wearing a mask and social distancing, but there will still be risks.
During Mayor Greg Fischer's weekly COVID-19 update, Dr. Hartlage said indoor parties and larger gatherings should be avoided, especially as coronavirus case numbers continue to remain high in Louisville.
Dr. Hartlage said there were 3,700 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths reported in the metro within the last week, including the death of a 22-year-old. Mayor Fischer said these numbers are similar to what the city saw last winter, just as the vaccine became available.
Dr. Paul McKinney, professor and associate dean in the University of Louisville School of Public Health, said it will likely be another four to six weeks before Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is approved for kids between the ages of 5 and 11. He said the earliest possible approval could come by Halloween, but no specific date has been determined.
Dr. McKinney said recommendations on safe Halloween activities will likely be based on transmission rates rather than on the availability of the vaccine.
Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available through local hospitals and chain pharmacies for those who have compromised immune systems and other groups may be eligible later this month. Mayor Fischer said the city has plenty of vaccine doses if the CDC and FDA approve booster shots for people 65 years old and older and those with high-risk medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
As of right now, Pfizer is the closest to having a booster dose approved federally. Medical experts say people should not mix and match vaccine brands, so only those who received the Pfizer vaccine for their first two doses should get the booster. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are working to submit data on their booster vaccines, but Dr. McKinney said it will take another six to eight weeks for them to be approved.
Dr. Hartlage said people who are not in high-risk groups should not feel a push to get a booster dose of the vaccine right away. She hopes the approval process for booster shots comes in stages so the city can manage its vaccine supply properly.
She also said the metro's distribution task force is still focused on getting first doses out to underserved communities.
You can watch the meeting in full here.