In mid-December, Barton County hospitals received some of the first allocated doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and began administering them to health-care workers. This week, the Barton County Health Department set up a drive-through vaccination clinic at the Expo Complex west of Great Bend. Approximately 200 people received the vaccine Wednesday and Thursday, according to County Administrator Phil Hathcock.
Most of those were administered Wednesday during the county’s biggest drive-through vaccination clinic to date.
Hathcock said the county made phone calls to employers who had people in the state’s Phase One group for vaccine eligibility. “The Kansas Department of Health and Environment directed us,” he said.
After the county contacted employers, “they sent us lists of people who would like to receive the vaccine,” he said.
Those people were instructed to come to the Expo between 1 and 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The Barton County Sheriff’s Office directed traffic, checking the list of names and giving each person a form to fill out. Then, vehicles formed two lines into the Expo III building, where tents were set up for people to administer the vaccines. Trustees from the Barton County Detention Center volunteered to help set up the tents and did other chores throughout the afternoon, such as keeping track of clipboards.
Two doses of the vaccine are needed. Those receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine were given a card and told to bring it with them when they return for the second dose. Hathcock said that will probably be in four weeks.
After administering vaccines to everyone in each vehicle, a county employee wrote the time of day on a piece of paper to be placed on the dash; people were asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving the Expo Complex. Sheriff Brian Bellendir said there were no averse effects reported that afternoon.
Hathcock said the doses administered Wednesday were the Moderna vaccine and had been provided by the University of Kansas Health System - Great Bend Campus. They were administered to people in the “phase one group.” The list included everyone from firefighters to mental health employees and funeral home workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed this sequence for administering the vaccine:
• Phase 1a, health-care personnel and long-term care facility residents;
• Phase 1b, people aged 75 years and older, and essential workers. For purposes of this recommendation, the following essential workers are considered frontline: firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, those who work in the education sector (teachers, and support staff), as well as day-care workers.
• Phase 1c, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and adults 65 years of age or older.
More to come
These weren’t the first doses of vaccine delivered, and they won’t be the last. But a timeline for the process has not been released.
Jill Chadwick, director of media relations for The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kan., said they have 14,000 employees in the metro area. “We’ve done thousands of shots, with thousands to go,” she said Thursday.
“We wanted to make sure we got it to the people who needed it the most,” Chadwick said. For health-care employees in that group, those with the longest or greatest exposure to the virus were offered it first. Of those, about 70% said “yes” to the vaccine and 30% wanted to “wait awhile,” she said.
But pinpointing how many vaccinations have been delivered and who will get them next is difficult, she said. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is the traffic cop but as the vaccine makes its way to communities like Great Bend, it takes a lot of people to administer the vaccines. “We’re flying the plane while we build it,” she said.
“This is going to be an ongoing process,” Hathcock said. “For the general public, the vaccine is not available yet.”
On Dec. 17, the first allocated does of the COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to Clara Barton Hospital in Ellinwood.
The Barton County Health Department held its first COVID-19 vaccine drive-through the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 22. Shots were given to emergency medical services personnel, health-care and associated workers, and the BCHD staff. Department officials said they were following the distribution orders recommended by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
On Dec. 31, Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. David Jacobs delivered COVID-19 vaccine to Ellinwood District Hospital.
Is Kansas behind?
More than 17 million does of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed throughout the United States. As of Wednesday morning, 5.3 million Americans had received their first dose of the vaccination. Some 3.4 million doses have been distributed for use in long-term care facilities and 511,635 people in long-term care facilities had received the first dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations).
CDC also reports that Kansas has distributed 131,750 total doses (4,522 per 100,000); 31,938 people have received the first dose (1,096 per 100,000).
Earlier in the week, when Kansas was at 690 first doses per 100,000, it ranked last in the 50 states for vaccination initiation. Now, that distinction goes to Mississippi (819 per 100,000), Alabama (883) and Georgia (845).
COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help stop this pandemic, the CDC reports.
“It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.”