Vaccines becoming available for those 65-plus

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

By Adam Strunk 

If you’re 65 or older, you’ll get your first chance on Thursday to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Harvey County Health Department announced that it will work with Health Ministries to schedule 300 vaccinations for a Thursday, Feb. 4, clinic. The state told the county it would give it 400 doses, but 100 are designated for first responders.

“We have a lot of individuals in Phase 2, and we’re going to do it the best that we can,” Health Department Director Lynnette Redington said. “We’re not going to keep them in the freezer. We’re going to get them out into arms.”

For context, there are at least 6,800 people 65 or older in the county.

To get scheduled for a clinic, county residents can call (316)-836-4990. The call center will go on line at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, and be open Monday through Friday up to 4:30 p.m.

Calls before on that number will not be answered. People will also not be able to schedule an appointment by calling the health department or Health Ministries. To qualify, callers must be older than 65.

After all appointments are scheduled, callers will be put on a waiting list for the next clinic that will be conducted when the county gets more vaccinations from the state.

Redington and Schmidt said they expected regular vaccination clinics and the previously outlined process to continue as the state continued to provide vaccines.

According to both Redington and Health Ministries CEO Matt Schmidt, the two organizations would be prepared to administer as many vaccinations as they could receive from the State of Kansas.

“This is one of those situations where advanced planning is very helpful,” Schmidt said. “What’s being put in place now are plans the health department has been working on for, in some cases, years.”

However, limited supplies and unknown vaccine availability has made planning difficult, Schmidt said. The state relies on the federal government for vaccines. The state then provides them to local health departments.

“One of the unique challenges of working on a vaccination plan is we receive very little advanced notice of the allotment we have,” Redington said.

Redington said she was told by the state health department to expect Phase 2 vaccinations—which include those over 65 and high contact essential workers—to continue for months.

“We’re in Phase 2; it’s a large number of people,” she said. “We’ve been told through the state to expect it to go to April. This is the end of January, so we need everyone’s patience.”