First responders receive COVID vaccine

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Newton Fire/EMS worker Cory Lehman was among the first 30 people to receive the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations made by Moderna. The Harvey County Health Department received about 200 doses of the vaccine Dec. 21. The county is now moving to phase 2 of the vaccination effort. [COURTESY IMAGE]

About 200 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine created by Moderna arrived at the Harvey County Health Department on Dec. 22, and those designated to get the vaccine rolled up their sleeves to recieve the first doses. 

Dec. 22 members of the Health Department and area first responders received round one of vaccination shots — part of the first phase of vaccine deployment. It is not known when COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available. 

Members of Newton Fire/EMS and Hesston EMS were among those getting shots Dec. 22. 

"We got through 30 vaccinations [Dec. 22] at the health department," said Kyle McCaskey, public information officer for Harvey County. "Considering it was not set in stone when the vaccine would arrive, is a pretty good start." 

It represents the second shipment of COVID-9 to the county — Newton Medical Center recieved the Pfizer vaccine and began vaccinating hospital staff of Dec. 17. The Pfizer vaccine was the first vaccine approved for use by the FDA, with authorization for the Moderina vaccine coming late last week.  

According to USA Today, about 5.9 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are being rolled out to 3,500 locations around the country this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday. That's in addition to the 2 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine expected to be distributed this week, said Azar, who added that federal officials expect around 50 million people to have received their first dose of a vaccine by the end of January.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Moderna vaccine operates in a two-dose series separated by 28 days between shots. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, adverse events that occur in a recipient after COVID-19 vaccination are required to be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. The FDA requires vaccination providers report vaccination administration errors, serious adverse events, cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, and cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death after administration of COVID-19 vaccine. 

The CDC reports the vaccines may have some side effects, which it says are normal signs that the recipient's body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect the ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Common side effects on the arm where  patients get the shot include pain and swelling. Common side effects throughout the rest of the body can include fever, tiredness, chills and headache.

Russ Buller, Hesston Fire/EMS Chief, rolls up his sleeve to receive his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Harvey County Health Department Dec. 22. Doses received by the Health Department are earmarked for first responders. [COURTESY]