FRANKFORT, Ky. — Starting Monday, April 5, every Kentuckian 16 and older will be eligible to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, the only vaccine authorized by the FDA for use in people under 18.
Kentuckians 18 and up now also qualify for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Gov. Andy Beshear said more appointments are becoming available as Kentuckians continue to get vaccines. As other states see an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Beshear said it's crucial to get as many Kentuckians vaccinated as possible before virus variants can spread.
"What we're seeing is that vaccines work, and older Americans have gotten it. But we're seeing more younger Americans ending up in the hospital. This, we believe, is because of the more aggressive variants," Beshear said. "We want to get ahead of them."
Beshear said there are now 41 cases of "variants of concern" across Kentucky, including 13 cases in Kenton County, five in Boone County and four in Campbell County.
"This is a race, and therefore we need people willing to go in and get the vaccine as soon as possible," the governor said.
Kentucky's announcement on Wednesday beats the White House's May 1 goal to open vaccinations to all adults by nearly one month. It also beats Kentucky's previous goal by one week, as Beshear had pledged earlier this month that vaccine eligibility would open to all adults on April 12.
Since doses first arrived in December, Kentucky has vaccinated more than 1.3 million individuals against COVID-19, and officials estimate that 70% of Kentuckians age 70 and older have been vaccinated.
New COVID-19 cases decline for 11 weeks
New cases of COVID-19 have declined for the last 11 weeks. On Wednesday, the state's test positivity rate rose slightly to 2.96%.
Kentucky reported 815 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, more than last week's Wednesday count, as well as 22 new deaths from the virus, some of them from previous months reported by local health departments.
Since March 2020, 426,876 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6,090 have died of the virus. Currently, 413 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 110 people in intensive care units and 48 on ventilators.
The governor cautioned that Kentucky must continue to use "common sense" practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as other states see case numbers rising. Beshear has also discouraged "non-essential travel" during spring break.
NKY Health reports 430 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 39,922 people have recovered from the virus Wednesday. Since the pandemic began, 390 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus. Track the spread on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence rate map.
Watch a replay of the briefing below: