Coronavirus Health
J. Tyler Franklin |

Volunteers at LouVax prepare vaccines to be administered.

Louisville remains in the critical spread level for COVID-19 with a daily incidence rate of 69.1 per 100,000 residents — more than double the red zone threshold. 

“We did have a little bit of dip last week, but unfortunately it appears to be just that, a blip, and our case numbers are back to where they had been,” said Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, associate medical director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

Health experts largely attribute the continued surge of cases has been largely attributed to the delta variant. 

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for moderately or severely immunocompromised people.

Now, booster shots could be on the way for older people and others with certain medical conditions, according to University of Louisville public health professor Dr. Paul McKinney. 

“The bottom line is that the Food and Drug Administration joint committee felt that there was strong evidence that people who are 65 and above will benefit now from a booster dose,” said McKinney, who is a member of the CDC advisory committee of immunization practices.

An FDA panel recently issued a booster recommendation that also includes people with conditions not related to immune system issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

McKinney said that research on third doses is promising and shows few negative side effects.

“The formal recommendations are made by the CDC, those will be forthcoming in the next couple of days, by Thursday afternoon we should have those,” said McKinney. 

If the CDC’s recommendations are approved, booster shots could begin by the end of this week or early next week.

Booster shots will only be offered by Pfizer, as it is the only vaccine that sought approval for booster usage. McKinney and other health experts don’t recommend mixing vaccines, so only those who received Pfizer originally should get the booster. 

Hartlage said that the city has enough vaccines to accommodate booster shots while also continuing first dose efforts.

McKinney agreed with Hartlage’s assessment of vaccine supplies.

“There does not seem to be any lack of vaccine doses to go around for third doses,”  McKinney said. “If we have select recommendations for certain groups to get immunized first for dose three, it will allow things to proceed in a more orderly fashion.” 

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.