Health Metro Louisville

As the weekly COVID-19 case count in Louisville remains high, officials are warning that vaccine demand is outstripping supply.

There are currently about 53,000 people on the city’s vaccination waitlist, said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville’s chief health strategist, during a weekly COVID-19 briefing with city officials. More than 30,000 Jefferson County residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Monday, she said.

Moyer said many of the city’s vaccines will go to educators in the next few weeks, with the rest going to priority individuals, like those who are 70 or older.

Those who express interest in being vaccinated will be the first to learn when more slots are available. People can sign up for the waitlist online or by calling (502) 912-8598.

“We know that there’s more people on that interest list than we know we’ll have vaccine for the next couple months,” Moyer said.

The city usually finds out on Friday how many vaccines it will receive the next Monday, which is why it is not scheduling far in advance, Moyer said. But she encouraged signing up for the waitlist, because people who do so may be contacted to receive a vaccine if there is last-minute availability.

About 10 percent of those who sign up for a vaccine appointment at the mass vaccination site at Broadbent Arena don’t show up, Moyer said.

“If you get a phone call at the last minute, that means we have extra vaccine for the day,” she said. “So be ready to get in your car and come down and see us.”

The city’s waitlist is a running account of all the people in Louisville who have requested vaccines but not received appointments.

That list includes people in the 70-plus age group.

Louisville hospitals began taking appointments for those who are 70 and older on Friday, and Moyer said all slots were filled within an hour. The chief medical officer for the University of Louisville said Monday that all three local hospital systems have ceased taking new appointments for now, according to the Courier Journal.

City officials said Tuesday that hospital systems will use the city’s waitlist to offer vaccines to those over 70 as appointments become available.

Karl Bullock with the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness said health department employees will email people when hospitals release more appointments. At that time, they may sign up for appointments through the hospitals’ websites.

“Currently the health department does not anticipate [any more] open spots for three weeks, but possibly Friday if the state gets a bigger allocation than expected,” he said in an email.

Bullock said that each week the state gives the city about 10,000 vaccines, which are divided between the health department and local hospital system.

Mayor Greg Fischer said officials initially worried not enough people would want the vaccine.

“That is definitely not the problem right now, where demand is far exceeding supply,” he said during Tuesday’s briefing.

Fischer pointed to the federal government’s release of vaccines to states as determining Louisville’s supply. He called news that the Trump administration had exhausted its reserve for second doses “quite disappointing.”

He looked ahead to a new vaccine distribution plan under the administration of Joe Biden, who will be sworn in as president Wednesday. Last week, Fischer said he hoped an accelerated vaccination campaign would reach 230,000 Louisville residents.

“We hope that there’s more different vaccines other than Pfizer and Moderna approved as well,” he said. “So it looks good when you look at a couple months, but that doesn’t make you any happier today when you can’t get the vaccine.”

Testing Slows

Moyer reported 3,732 COVID-19 cases in Louisville over the past week and said another 32 individuals had died because of the virus.

She said there were 376 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Louisville, up from 354 the previous week. The number in the ICU was up to 88, from 87, and there are 54 on ventilators, up from 51.

The number of cases may be artificially low due to fewer people getting tested, Moyer said.

Testing was at its highest in November, when 45,000 people were getting tested per week. That number dropped by more than half last week, when just 22,000 people got tested in Louisville.

Moyer is encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.

“And if you’re working outside the home or going to the grocery store, or going to church in person or traveling, having meals with anyone outside your home, please also get tested this week,” she said.

A list of Louisville-area testing sites is available here.

Moyer said the more people get tested, the more accurate the city’s case count can be.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Editor.