A major pharmacy chain unintentionally logged a few hundred thousand COVID-19 vaccinations twice, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday, which means many fewer Kentuckians than previously thought have received their first dose.
Kroger locations across Kentucky, where vaccines are administered through its pharmacies, reported 431,100 duplicate doses to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal vaccine database. Those doses — 252,500 of which are thought to be first doses — will be removed Thursday evening and final numbers will be released Friday.
“The CDC has confirmed in their system that some COVID vaccination data has been counted twice,” the governor said Thursday in a news conference, adding, “This was not intentional by anyone,” but “What it does to our numbers hurts a little bit.” Three other states have made similar errors, Beshear said, but he declined to say which ones.
Vaccinations steadily climbed in Kentucky over the summer during the most severe surge of COVID-19 to date, but Thursday’s news will cut the percentage of Kentuckians who’ve received a first dose — 62% — down to 56% or 57%. Just over 54% of Kentucky’s population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Kroger reported vaccinations to both the CDC and the statewide immunization registry, assuming there would be a “de-duplication algorithm,” he said, when in fact there wasn’t. Kentucky first questioned the discrepancy upon learning that more than 100% of some populations had received a shot, according to the CDC’s data tracker, he said.
Factoring in the updated immunization rates, each age group will see a loss of 5% to 7.5%. People under the age of 40 in Kentucky are among the least vaccinated: 62% of people ages 25 to 39 have received at least an initial dose, followed by 54% of people ages 18 to 24, 53% of 16- and 17-year-olds, and 48% of 12-to 15-year-olds.
Once the duplicated doses are removed, Kentucky’s number of residents with at least one dose will drop from 2.78 million to 2.53 million.
The prevalence of the virus in Kentucky continues to recede almost as quickly as it escalated this summer. Last week brought the lowest number of new cases in 11 weeks, while coronavirus-related hospitalizations have dropped by 23% in the last seven days, Beshear said. On Wednesday, the positivity rate had fallen to 5.56% — down from 7.91% two weeks ago and 10.40% a month ago.
“There is a chance that in two-to-three weeks, we could be in a really good place,” he said.