FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's expanding COVID-19 vaccination campaign is aimed at making it increasingly convenient for people to get the shots needed to defeat the coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday.

The governor visited a newly opened community vaccination center in Henderson. The state opened the western Kentucky site in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This week, I’ve visited a few of our state’s most unique vaccination sites — from a mobile clinic run out of an emergency management van that can meet people where they are, to a pop-up clinic at a professional soccer game,” Beshear said. “No matter where you are, there’s a convenient, and sometimes even fun, place where you can get your shot of hope, protect yourself and save lives.”

In another inoculation pitch, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said the smaller vaccination sites available statewide will help reach the governor's goal of 2.5 million Kentuckians receiving at least their first COVID-19 shot. Once that threshold is reached, Beshear has pledged to lift capacity and physical distancing restrictions for nearly all businesses, venues and events catering to 1,000 or fewer patrons.

“The more efficient we can make it, the more effective this whole process is going to be,” Coleman said during her own visit to a vaccination site Wednesday.

Anyone 16 or older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky. More than 1.7 million Kentuckians have received at least their first dose, Beshear said.

The Democratic governor has touted a grassroots strategy of offering vaccinations where people shop for groceries and pick up prescriptions to make it more convenient to get the vaccine.

Meanwhile, FEMA is sending four mobile vaccination clinic vans to Kentucky, and each can administer 125 doses per day, Beshear said. Statewide, FEMA will have the capacity to administer 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Kentuckians per day through the mobile clinics and the community vaccination sites opening in Henderson and in Laurel County, he said.

“Our gains against this virus have been real and sustained, but here’s the tough news: This crisis is not over," Beshear said. "Experts say we’re seeing the influence of more contagious COVID strains and more young people becoming infected.”

Meanwhile, the state reported 747 new coronavirus cases and nine more virus-related deaths Wednesday. The state's virus-related death toll has reached at least 6,485 since the pandemic began.

The statewide rate of positive cases was 3.11%. More than 430 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 119 in intensive care units.


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