It’s going to take a bit of time and a lot of patience before most Allen County residents can get a COVID-19 vaccine, but the local health department is starting to develop a plan for when that time comes.
The Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments needs volunteers for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. A date has not yet been announced, administrator Rebecca Johnson said, but she is hopeful more information will follow soon.
The health department also announced it would release a weekly “Current Situation Report” each Tuesday on its Facebook page and website, sekmchd.com.
THE COUNTY’S vaccination plan depends on how much vaccine is available, Johnson said. So far, shipments have been very limited. She expects to receive about 100 doses per week for the foreseeable future.
The state released a vaccination schedule based on criteria such as age, health conditions and potential for exposure. Each phase will begin after the previous phase has been completed, i.e., when everyone in that group who wants a vaccine has received one.
Allen County is not quite done with Phase 1 vaccinations, Johnson said, but she expects that to be completed soon. Phase 1 is primarily for health care workers and those who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Phase 2 will include anyone 65 and older and some essential workers. About 1 million meet that criteria; Kansas is currently receiving about 45,000 doses each week. The doses come from the federal government, and Kansas gets about 1% of the available doses.
The SEKMCHD cannot control how much vaccine it receives, as the doses are allocated by the state and are based on population.
“We understand your frustration with the vaccine roll-out and we share them. Please be patient,” this week’s report from the department said.
MEANWHILE, the health department is asking for volunteers to help with vaccination clinics in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon and Woodson counties.
In order to volunteer you must be over 18, be able to walk and stand for at least 2 hours, be able to lift 20 lbs., be able to wear a mask during a four-hour shift, and read/write English.
Available positions include: traffic control, greeter, registration clerk, supply runner, kitchen staff, supply clerk, wait time monitor, patient education, first aid, and check-out clerk.
Some positions require medical credentials.
For more information or to sign up, contact Susan Belt, outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail and be sure to include your name, phone number and county. She will respond within a few days with a document to survey your interests and availability.
IN OTHER vaccine news, a representative from Iola Pharmacy said they have not yet received any doses but are keeping a list of customers who would like to be notified when they do.
The pharmacy will receive doses from the state, but there is no indication when that may happen, pharmacist Taylor Cation said.
The pharmacy frequently receives calls about the vaccine, and customers can be added to a waiting list.
For more information, call 620-365-3176.
The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, like other health clinics, is waiting for distribution of the vaccine, first from the federal government to the states, then to the county health departments who will allocate it to providers.
Robert Poole, director of communications for CHC, said one of the goals announced recently by President Joe Biden is to involve community health centers in the front lines of vaccine distribution, which would allow them to access vaccine doses directly from manufacturers. Currently, though, there doesn’t seem to be enough vaccine to go around.
“We stand ready to support our community and our county agencies in any way we can but right now it’s a bit of a waiting game,” Poole said. “Things are changing daily. It’s all about the supply line.”
ALLEN County likely will reach a grim milestone of 1,000 total COVID-19 cases within the next week. The county has reported a total of 922 cases so far, with 11 deaths. Currently, the county has 87 active cases.