Governor Andy Beshear visits Bowling Green vaccination site
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Governor Andy Beshear was in town Friday morning visiting the state’s regional vaccination site in Bowling Green which was launched in partnership with Kroger.
Last Thursday, Beshear announced the state is opening an additional 28 vaccination sites for a total of 291 sites across the commonwealth with a provider now close to where everyone lives in Kentucky including a Bowling Green vaccination site inside of Greenwood Mall in the former Sears location.
“I want to thank Kroger for their continued support throughout this pandemic to assist and protect Kentuckians throughout our state,” Beshear said. “The COVID-19 vaccines are a medical miracle. The regional vaccination sites are just the latest example of how Kroger has stepped up, along with local officials and leaders in Western Kentucky, to make sure we get through this together.”
“Kroger Health is excited to partner with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on this regional vaccination site. By the end of today, we will have already vaccinated 2,500 Kentuckians at this site alone. Our team of health professionals has been working diligently to provide a great experience for all those receiving the vaccine,” said Jeremy Crain, Health & Wellness Leader for the Kroger Nashville division. “We will continue to support Kentucky’s phased approach, focusing first on priority populations, and will remain committed to doing all we can to assist until all Kentuckians have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
“Kroger health’s vision is to help people live healthier lives, and it has never been more important as we continue to work to get everyone vaccinated,” said Crain.
Kentuckians with questions about eligibility or how to sign up can also visit the state’s Find a Vaccine website, view the Kentucky vaccine map or call the Kentucky vaccine hotline. The hotline – 855-598-2246 or TTY 855-326-4654 (for deaf or hard-of-hearing Kentuckians) – is available 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
Beshear said each regional vaccination site brings the state one step closer to its goal that every Kentuckian will be able to receive a vaccine without having to travel further than one county away.
“We are thankful for the leadership of Gov. Beshear, Commissioner Stack and Secretary Gray. There is a sense of hope and enthusiasm with the announcement of additional regional sites,” said Matthew L. Hunt, District Director for the Barren River District Health Department. “We are grateful for the increased access points for the vaccine in south central Kentucky.”
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said, “We are so excited to have this Kroger health care clinic opening here in Bowling Green, and appreciate the partnership with Kroger and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. There was a great deal of work by a great many individuals and entities to bring this vaccination clinic site to fruition. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Gov. Beshear for his leadership and coordination with public health, emergency management and transportation crews, Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police.”
Buchanon also thanked the county’s emergency management, county employees and the Greenwood Mall management.
“This is an initiative that is a game changer for our community for our region of Kentucky, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and how much all the people of Warren County appreciate it,” said Buchanon.
Mike Sherrod, CEO of TriStar Greenview, also attended the event along with Connie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Med Center Health.
“Working closely with the Kentucky Department of Public Health and its Commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, the Med Center Health system has administered over 23,000 COVID vaccines from phase 1A and 1B,” said Smith. “With over 7,000 requests remaining, the Kroger Regional Vaccination Site is a welcomed partner to our community. Added resources, such as Kroger programs, will help strengthen our continued efforts to defeat this deadly virus.”
Beshear said most areas in the state will be opening up vaccinations to group 1C by the beginning of March.
“We believe in most areas in the state that we will certainly be to 1C by the beginning of March, if not potentially before that. We are looking at an option though, because some of our 70 and older seniors are in harder to reach areas, of moving some sites, larger regional sites, to 1C while we allow some others to more specifically target on more vulnerable populations that are in 1B. If we look at especially the last week, and I see it every day, our 70 and older population is becoming a larger and larger and larger percentage of our vaccinations which means that we are doing a really good job of focusing on them now. We’re at, I believe, over 200,000, or right around there, individuals that have been vaccinated in that group,” said Beshear.
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon calls the initiative a game changer and highlighted his appreciation for all the work that has gone into creating this site.
Individuals who may be struggling to get to a vaccination site need not worry, according to the governor.
“We are asking our local health departments, who already reach those communities in so many different ways right now, to focus on hard-to-reach populations. We’re using pop-up clinics in different parts of the state especially to promote equity and to bring the vaccine to people especially those with transportation challenges. You can expect to see that here in Bowling Green as we move forward and in the surrounding regions,” said Beshear.
Beshear also gave a hopeful timeline for vaccinations saying he hopes everyone who wants their first dose will be able to get it by June.
When it comes to the mask mandate, Beshear does not plan to lift it quite yet.
“I think what we’ll have to do is will look at both where cases are and mortality as well as percentage of individuals vaccinated. But we’re going to right way. But the mask mandate is still the most effective tool that we have in fighting COVID and we’re going to make sure we don’t lift that too soon and everybody’s another pretty good rhythm right now. We see more masks in more places than I think we have throughout the pandemic and they also keep us warm out in the cold,” said Beshear.
Beshear also says he is touched by the commitment of everyone involved in the vaccination sites.
When asked about a vaccine that only requires one dose that is in the process of approval, Beshear said he’s ready for it.
“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be a game changer just like the first two vaccines were. Johnson and Johnson is committed to providing 100 million doses to the United States by the end of June. That means will have slightly over 1 million. And with Johnson and Johnson, that means we vaccinate 1 million people. So it’s very very exciting. Now what we’re going to have to do is a little bit of education because sometimes people look at the efficacy and the numbers between Mederna and/or Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson. But Johnson and Johnson is a very good vaccine as if not more effective than the flu vaccine. It’s going to be a critical component to us getting to herd immunity. Which with the amount of vaccines that we’re now seeing in the pipeline, I hope in Kentucky everyone who wants their first dose of the vaccine is able to get it, we’re hoping [by] June,” said Beshear.
The Bowling Green site is currently prioritizing Kentuckians 70 and older.
Phase 1A and 1B individuals in the region are encouraged to sign up for rolling, seven-day appointments at Kroger.com/COVIDVaccine or by calling 866-211-5320.
The Bowling Green regional vaccination site is located at:
Greenwood Mall (Former Sears Location)
2625 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green, KY 42104
The site is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.