Vaccine demand causes delays with county appointment line

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s the advice given by the county  for using the phone number it put out that allows those 65 and older to schedule vaccination appointments. The number went live at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.
“Please be patient as you call, but if you’re not able to get through at first, do continue to try,” a post put out by the county as the vaccine hotline went live stated.

As of 12 p.m., that continues to be the advice.

“Just be patient and understanding and try calling again every so often,” Harvey County Public Information Officer Kyle McCaskey said.

Area resident Richard Hege said he’d tried calling the number more than 100 times in the morning.

“I tried continuously to get on that line and only once did the phone number answer, but then it dropped right away,” he said.

Hege said he gave up, got breakfast and will likely keep trying this afternoon.

Hege and his wife have both been sequestered indoors through much of the pandemic.

“We’re both over 80 years old,” he said. “My wife has pulmonary complications, and that makes it doubly necessary not to get it [COVID-19].”

Seniors across the county have similar stories. Census data puts the number of people 65 or older in the county at 6,800.  That’s a lot of supply for a very small demand–300 available vaccines this week at an upcoming Feb. 4 clinic.

Hege wasn’t alone.  Harvey County Now has continued to field calls this morning from seniors attempting to get through.  Many reported that the number published, 316-836-4990, was not working. The number published in the paper matches the one put out by the health department.

Under the county’s current plan, those who weren’t able to get into one of the 300 available slots would get put on a waiting list for when more vaccines become available.

The entire situation highlights the short supply of vaccines locally as well as state and nation wide.
Of late, local health officials have said that the unsure amount of vaccines and their availability from the state has made it difficult to plan community distributions.

State officials, in turn, have said that Kansas was receiving about 45,000 vaccines per week from the federal government, and supply was often uncertain.

Recently, President Joe Biden announced that he was seeking for the U.S. to provide 100 million doses in 100 days and said the county would use the Defense Production Act to speed up the creation of vaccine.

As part of the effort, his administration announced on Tuesday that it was ramping up with a wartime-style effort to purchase 200 million more doses of  vaccine, would up vaccine allocations to states by 16 percent in the coming weeks, as well as provide a three-week forecast on vaccination allocations to better help with state planning.

At a Tuesday health department press conference, Health Department Director Lynnette Redington said that the state directed county health departments to plan to be in Phase 2 of the vaccination plan until at least April.

The state’s Phase 2 plan vaccinates seniors and high-contact critical workers and includes more than one million Kansans.

Hege said when he does get his vaccine and waits the time needed to be protected  he and his wife will be happy to leave the house more.

“We will probably be a little less selective of going out and doing something,” he said. “We’d like to do some traveling.”


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