Word was being circulated at about 1:30 p.m. Friday that those who weren’t already out at the Great Bend Expo Complex for their first COVID-19 vaccine need not bother making the trip. The Barton County Health Department was holding a drive-through clinic there and was going to start administering 300 doses at 4 p.m., but demand rapidly outstripped the supply.
Indeed, by that time, the line of cars snaked its way all the way from the complex entrance off West Barton County road to the orange cones stopping them from entering Expo III. By about 2:30 p.m., the Barton County Sheriff’s Office was turning people away.
One person who was about halfway back in the line said she and her car mate were numbers 213 and 214. One well-bundled man on a bicycle had been there since noon, and one man at the front had been there since 7 a.m., monitoring the situation for his coworkers.
The long, single-file line was compressed to a shorter one up to four cars abreast.
As people whiled away the hours before the first shot was given, they read or talked on their cell phones. Others got out of their vehicles and walked down the line in the brisk but bright afternoon, chatting and socializing with others.
County Administrator Phil Hathcock said doses were to eligible participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Only people in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan were eligible.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidance for Phase 2 includes persons aged 65+, people in congregate settings such as prisons, and high-contact critical workers.
Phase 1 included health-care workers; residents of patients in long-term care (LTC), senior housing or LTC-supported independent living; and workers critical to pandemic response continuity.
Barton County anticipates receiving more vaccine in the near future and will continue to host additional drive-through clinics as soon as possible, Hathcock said.
Eligible persons may expedite their vaccinations when they are available by downloading and completing the vaccine consent form found on the Barton County website, www.bartoncounty.org, under the COVID-19 tab. This step is recommended but is not required.