Vaccine wait list grows to 3,100

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Margaret Ikerd, a 102-year-old resident of Kidron Bethel Village, receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ikerd has seen a number of historic events in her lifetime.

Nearly 10% of Harvey County residents are on a waiting list at the Harvey County Health Department for COVID-19 vaccinations — a list that contains only those who are 65 and up. 

According to Lynette Redington, director of the health department, on Feb. 9 there were more than 3,100 people on that list. The health department will receive about 600 doses for those on that list this week — and 300 doses to use as second doses of the vaccines for those who have already gotten their first shots. 

"When we schedule an individual for an appointment, we schedule both appointments: both the first and the second dose," Redington said. "... We have started working on that waiting list because of the number of vaccines we are getting in."

At the Hesston Pharmacy, the pharmacy has signed on to be a state provider and started this week to move through its own waiting list. The pharmacy started with the eldest on the list — vaccinating those 84 years old or older this week. 

The pharmacy is expecting 100 more doses, and will schedule from its own waiting list once those are confirmed. 

Providers learn each Thursday how many doses they will receive the following week. 

This is all "old hat" for Margaret Ikerd, the first person vaccinated at Kidron Bethel Village. Though she was not old enough to remember, she lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. 

Born in December 1918, she entered a world that was reeling from a world war that ended just 37 days prior and in the midst of the deadly global influenza pandemic. From the very start of her life, she has been witness to countless historic events and has developed an attitude to accept with grace and respond humbly to whatever life presents.

“Oh, it was just part of the routine again,” said Ikerd about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’ve lived an interesting life. It has always presented opportunities and new challenges. You have to just go with the flow.”

Her first shot was Jan. 9. Her second shot was due this week. 

The county health department expects the state to be in the current phase of vaccination rollout — Phase II — through the month of April. Included in the targeted populations are those 65 and older, grocery store workers, manufacturing workers, first responders and education workers. 

At 102 years old, resident Margaret Ikerd has a kind of practical wisdom when it comes to living through the COVID-19 pandemic, and she doesn’t allow it to ruffle her. While she doesn’t have firsthand recollections of life during the influenza pandemic, she recalls hearing stories of social distancing practices similar to those of today.

“Mother was pregnant with me during the influenza pandemic and one of her relatives, who was also a good friend, was also pregnant,” said Ikerd. “It was disappointing to Mother that they couldn’t be together during that time and share the experience. The other lady ended up losing her baby because of influenza.”

Ikerd’s daughter, Linda Koppes, is also a resident at Kidron Bethel Village, living in an independent living apartment with her husband that is connected to the health care center where her mother resides. Despite the close proximity, mother and daughter have only seen each other face-to-face one time in the last year.

“I call Mother every evening at 7:45,” said Koppes. “Her oldest son calls every Saturday from Alaska, and her youngest son calls every Sunday from California. She seems very satisfied with those phone calls. One of my brothers also sends a letter every week that she receives on Monday. She’s very independent, so she really doesn’t let the whole situation bother her.”

While Ikerd’s view of the newest vaccine has been go with the flow, Koppes noted the hopefulness she felt when she and her husband received their vaccines on the same day as her mother.

“Getting the vaccine was a big, wonderful relief,” said Koppes. “When we received our vaccines, everyone was smiling. It was a day of celebration. .... While we know we have many more months of being careful, I’m looking forward to the day when I can see Mother face-to-face again and have a conversation.”