By Adam Strunk
When will the elderly and the next wave get vaccines in the county? When the state gets them and distributes them.
Assistant Health Department Director Toby Harkins gave an update on vaccination in the county.
At the end of 2020, the county received 1,300 vaccines from the state to distribute to frontline workers. Since then, the county has received the second doses to vaccinate those who received the first vaccine.
Outside of that, there was no sure date for when providers in the county would move on to the second wave of eligible people.
“As far as when, it comes down to vaccine availability,” he said. “As soon as the state receives a shipment that goes past the first phase, they’ll move in to phase two. Honestly, I’m expecting that to be any time over the next week. The last I heard, Phase one was getting within a couple thousand doses of completion.”
Eligible people are over the age of 65 and who work essential jobs with large amounts of public exposure, Harkins said.
He said the county has plans for distribution of these vaccines.
“That’s really the issue is we have too many plans,” he said. “We have a plan in case we get 100 plans a week and that’s scaled up into literally the thousands per week.”
He said the question the county has now with the new federal push to expand vaccination is when and who will get the coming allocations of vaccines.
He said to his understanding the second wave of vaccinations will not only come through the county but medical providers, as well.
“If we set up a plan for 1,000 doses a day and they only ship out 300 doses, we’ve wasted a lot of community resources,” he said. “Basically, what we’re waiting for is we’re waiting to know the allotment and also who is getting these allotments.”
Other counties, such as Sedgwick, have begun to create waiting lists for phase two vaccinations when they become available.
Harkins described the waiting lists for vaccinations other counties were developing as contingency plans.
“Right now, we’re all on a waiting list,” he said. “Right now, honestly, most of our plans we’re ready to roll out right now.”
He said that when phase two does move forward, people will need to schedule appointments to get vaccinated with whatever entity is providing vaccines.
He said the county will provide direction on where to get the vaccine for eligible people when the announcement comes that phase 2 is moving forward in the state.
Harkins spoke on the effectiveness of the vaccine and the side effects at the press conference, as well.
He said that so far, the county has seen no severe side effects in vaccinations in the county. He said there have been reports of redness and soreness at the sight of the vaccination and in a few cases a feeling of malaise or a low fever the day after injection.
Such symptoms are caused by the body’s immune response to the vaccine.
The vaccine update comes as the county surpassed 3,000 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The county passed the 2,000 mark just under a month ago. It hit 1,000 in mid-November. The first case in the county was reported at the end of March.
Active cases are slightly down compared to the week prior with 248 sick with the virus on Tuesday. There were 36 confirmed deaths and 11 hospitalizations.
The U.S. passed 400,000 deaths from the virus, this week.