• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Prather: new COVID variant another reason to continue precautions, Drive-thru vaccine clinic set for

The B-117 variant of COVID-19 – perhaps better known as the European

variant – has spread to Kentucky and, according to Woodford Public

Health Director Cassie Prather, Woodford County.

Monday, Prather told the Sun that more than 40 Kentuckians have been

diagnosed with the B-117 version of COVID, including a woman from

Woodford County. She has fully recovered, but the variant is still cause

for concern, Prather said.

“We know that variant is here … and that should be even more reason to

continue masking, washing our hands, social distancing and things like

that … because this virus can get ahead of us before we develop

community immunity from vaccinations. It can keep varying (and)

potentially make the vaccines useless at some point, so that’s why we

have to continue studying … the vaccine effectiveness.”

Prather agreed with other health professionals who say children seem

more susceptible to catching and thus potentially spreading the B-117

variant, but offered her own theory on that.

“We’ve got a lot of adults here in Kentucky and the United States who

have already gotten the vaccine. … I’m wondering if that’s why we could

be seeing more spreading right now within the younger population,” she said.

Vaccinations for children are coming, she said.

“Because there are plenty of vaccine trials, especially for those 12 to

17, in that age range. In fact, there’s one going on in Lexington over

the spring and summer. (The B-117) does spread more quickly and easily,

which could potentially lead to more cases of COVID-19,” Prather said.

Prather said the continued goal of the Woodford County Health

Department is to decrease the number of COVID-19 cases and prevent a

“fourth wave” like that being seen in other parts of the country and world.

“We investigate every case, but when we know of a variant case, those

disease investigations are much more thorough, which lead to more

quarantines, things like that, because of what we know about the

variants and the potential health hazards of those,” she said.

After vaccines became available, Woodford has consistently ranked among

the top counties in the state – second last week – in the percentage of

people who’ve been vaccinated.

“ … I firmly believe that this county has done incredibly well in

keeping our cases relatively low. We typically have a lower incidence

rate than the counties around us, but also, not only have we been

diligent at the health department in not holding on to vaccine and

getting it out to the public, but the folks here also have access to …

the contiguous counties, where the appointments are readily available as

well,” she said.

Prather said her department has received 1,000 doses of the Johnson &

Johnson vaccine that will be administered at a drive-thru clinic at

Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center Wednesday, April 14, from 2

to 5 p.m. Registrations are required. More information is available on

the department’s Facebook page or its website, wchd.com.

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