COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues in Phase 2

Chad Frey
The Kansan

COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues in Harvey County, still in Phase 2 of the state vaccination plan. Targeted in the current phase are those older than 65, educators and some essential workers. 

Since the vaccine became available, the county health department has administered more than 2,000 vaccinations. 

"That does not include Newton Medical Center or pharmacies," said Lynnette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. 

The totals include 1,080 doses to those 65 and older, 936 to those between 19 and 55 who have been in target groups of the first two phases of vaccine rollout. 

The department continues to target individuals who are 65 and older, working through a waiting list that has been generated the past two weeks that at one time had more than 3,000 names upon it. 

"We want to encourage people to be patient," Redington said. "We are getting through our watiing list. It is quite long. We are calling. We are trying and hoping to get at least 300 vaccines per week, so it will take us still a while to get through that list."

Redington encouraged residents to place themselves on other waiting lists as well. 

Calls to the Harvey County call center have dropped in the past week, leading the health department and Health Ministries to reduce the hours the call center is open. 

The call center will operate operates from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 316-836-4990.

The department has also been working through vaccinating educational staff who work in a kindergarten through 12th grade setting. A "point of distribution" is scheduled for later this week and plans to finish first doses for educators later this month. 

"We are wrapping them up pretty well," Redington said. " ... We feel like we are getting caught up and moving well, and we will be moving on from them soon."

Newton USD 373 will be resuming in-school attendance for flexible plan students starting March 1.  

There are currently 74 active cases in the county, with seven patients in the Newton Med COVID unit. 

"They believe that is the new normal," Redington said. "That is a good number to hear when you look at the past."

To date, 13,379 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in Harvey County, with 27,267 tests administered.