Harvey County vaccinations approaching 3,000

COVID Vaccine taking place in Harvey County
File Photo. Nurse Emily Newhouse, left, gives a COVID-19 vaccine to Stephanie McCorkle, R.N., at Newton Medical Center. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

At this rate, Harvey County vaccinations for COVID-19 will soon have exceeded the count of residents that have contracted the disease.

On Tuesday, the Harvey County Health Department press conference provided more information on vaccination numbers and painted a clearer picture of what vaccination efforts in future weeks will look like.

The county, as of Tuesday, had vaccinated 1,600 individuals, to add to the 300 originally vaccinated by the hospital and 800 by Health Ministries. That number includes both those with a single vaccine as well as both.

“We are scheduling for our next point of dispensing, and we have 460 of those individuals lined up,” Health Department Director Lynnette Redington said, adding that there are another 500 vaccinations the county has scheduled for second vaccinations.

There are 3,200 people on the wait list for vaccines. The county is currently distributing vaccines to those 65 years of age or older.

At the current vaccination rate, it would take between six to eight weeks to make it through the list, meaning that it would be completed between the end of March and early April. That timeline meshes with the timeline given by the state for completing its Phase Two.

Additional vaccines are also now coming to the county through a federal program with participating pharmacies, such as Dillons, Walmart, and Walgreens.

However, so far, the health department has been informed that only Hesston Pharmacy has received the vaccines, which amount to 100 as part of the first distribution.

She said the state is now receiving forecasts of vaccination allotments. Numbers are similar to past distributions.

The state will receive approximately 44,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week for the next two weeks. That number will jump up to 48,000 for the week of Feb. 21.

“The more we get in, the more we can get through phases,” Redington said. “We have a number of people calling in, wondering when they’re going to get to their turn.”

The increase in Harvey County vaccinations wasn’t the only local good news.

Cases continue to trend downward for the fourth straight week. The county added 60 cases in the last week and has 70 active cases, the lowest since late October. The total number of positive cases was 3,274.

The two-week average of positive tests is down to 5%.

The lone bit of negative news was that the county added nine more COVID-19 deaths, moving the count up to 47.

“Those individuals didn’t just pass over the week,” Redington said, adding that they have to wait on official causes of death to be confirmed, and some of the deaths stretch back to January.

Tracing and tracking has gotten easier with fewer cases, and Redington said the county is cross training trackers to assist with scheduling for vaccines and the vaccination effort.