Harvey County to move to new phase in COVID-19 vaccine plan

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Harvey County Health Department director Lynnette Redington conducts the weekly COVID-19 briefing.

While supplies of COVID-19 vaccines remain limited, the eligibility of state residents wanting those vaccines will be expanded in the coming days.

The state is expected to move to Phases 3 and 4 of the state vaccination plan beginning Monday.

Lynnette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department, gave an update to the county commission Tuesday morning and held her weekly briefing Tuesday afternoon.

“We don’t have all the vaccine in the pipeline right now,” Redington said. “We are expecting some. They haven’t bumped up our number just yet. We have not received what we had ordered. We have not received the allocation number yet. We don’t have them all in the freezer or fridge for next week.”

She said the county COVID-19 task force had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to come up with a schedule for distribution.

Those who will be eligible for vaccination include those ages 16 through 64 with conditions that increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including:

• Cancer

• Down syndrome

• Certain heart conditions

• Type 1 & 2 diabetes

• Pregnancy

• Asthma

• Cystic fibrosis

• Liver disease

• Neurological conditions like dementia

• Other medical risks

Those vaccine distribution phases also include non-health care workers in critical infrastructure who cannot work remotely, including:

• Agricultural and food workers not included in previous phases

• Workers performing in-person activities indoors

• Utility workers

• Social service and government workers not included in previous phases

• Logistics workers, such as truck transportation workers and couriers

• Water and wastewater workers

• Shelter, housing, and finance workers

• Information technology and communication workers

Vaccine appointment information is available using the “Find My Vaccine” mapping tool at www.kansasvaccine.gov.

Redington reported 51 active cases of COVID-19, 14,553 individuals tested, 29,487 tests completed, three currently hospitalized, a two-week positivity rate of 4.24% (down from 4.88%) and 3,477 total cases during the pandemic.

She reported 3,665 vaccine doses delivered to date by the Harvey County Health Department. She said 995 doses were delivered from March 8-12. Another batch of vaccine is expected to be delivered this week.

The mask mandates remain in place for the county. Commissioners commented that the mask mandate will remain in place in the near future.

“If you are fully vaccinated and out in public places, continue to wear your mask,” Redington said. “If you are fully vaccinated and visiting family at low risk, you can take off your mask in private settings. Some of our nursing homes have changed some of their guidances as well. Some of them, so please check in with those nursing facilities you wish to visit.”

She said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment requires a 14-day quarantine for those coming to Kansas from New York and New Jersey, as well as some foreign countries. She said some states require a 14-day quarantine for those coming from Kansas.

She said to check with the state you are traveling to for those requirements.

Redington said KDHE epidemiologists have reached out to her department about reports of hepatitis A in the region.

She said there have been no reports of it in Harvey County.

“Just like COVID, it is spread before you’re feeling ill many times,” she said. “They’d like to work with us to get some clinics going.”

Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HAV is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. Hepatitis A is very contagious. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus — even in microscopic amounts — through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink.”

Symptoms include “fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice.” Symptoms can last up to two months. A vaccine is available.

More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/havfaq.htm#general.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com.