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Kentucky Ag. commissioner: Politicians shouldn't 'leapfrog' others for COVID-19 vaccine

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles declined the offer to take the coronavirus vaccine with other constitutional officers Monday.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky constitutional officers were offered the chance to take the coronavirus vaccine Monday, and while some did, Ag. Commissioner Ryan Quarles declined the offer.

Quarles said that while he’ll take the vaccine later, most politicians shouldn’t "leapfrog" in front of others. The Republican tweeted a statement to explain why he turned down Gov. Andy Beshear's offer to get vaccinated.

"Though I appreciate the governor's invitation, as a healthy 37-year-old with no underlying conditions I would rather my early access vaccine be given to a high-risk individual like a frontline worker or a resident of a long-term care facility," Quarles said in a statement.

Both Secretary of State Michael Adams and Auditor Mike Harmon did get the vaccine. Adams said he took it to "promote its safety and efficacy" to all Kentuckians.

Harmon thanked President Trump and Operation Warp Speed for making the opportunity possible.

Beshear thanked the two, along with Kentucky Supreme Court justices who took him up on the offer, for giving a bipartisan show of support for the "safe and effective shot of hope."

Quarles said he felt that he had to release a statement explaining his reasoning because he did not want people to get the wrong impression. He's not "anti-vaccine," but said he understands the vaccine is in short supply.

"I think the vaccine is going to be effective," Quarles said. "It's going to get us back to a sense of normalcy, a better place, but right now the early access to the vaccine needs to go to those more at risk. I think about World War II veterans, I think about those in long-term care facilities or our frontline workers who literally go into battle every single day. So, today, it's about reminding people that they need to come first, those who are at risk instead of rank and file politicians.”

Quarles did not fault those politicians who took it including the Governor, House Speaker and Senate President, noting that the CDC has recommended top officials take it for continuity of government.

Kentucky health care workers and long-term care residents have begun receiving the vaccine as part of the Phase 1A of the state's distribution plan. State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack also announced Phase 1B, dedicated to people 70 and older as well as first responders and K-12 school personnel.

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