County tops 5,000 COVID vaccinations

Chad Frey
The Kansan

The Harvey County Health Department has given more than 5,300 shots of a COVID-19 vaccine since vaccinations began.

Newton Fire/EMS Chief Steve Roberson receives the first of two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna. First responders received shots at the Harvey County Health Department as part of a phased rollout of the vaccine. Few area recipients reported side effects. [COURTESY IMAGE]

Up to now, the effort has targeted medical staff, first responders, educators, those 65 and older and manufacturing employees — populations part of the first two phases of a state vaccination plan. 

The state, and  Harvey County, moved to Phases Three and Four in the KDHE’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan March 23. These phases include people 16-to-64 years old with severe or other medical risks and other critical workers. People in previous phases remain eligible to be vaccinated at any time.

During Phase Two the county created a waiting list — a list that grew into the thousands before subsiding. 

"We have made it through the entire wait list, calling individuals who are 65 and older checking to see if they have had their vaccine or are still interested in their vaccine," said Lynette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. "We are no longer using the Harvey County wait list for those 65 and older."

That wait list stood at more than 1,400 people within the last two weeks. 

"We are working on scheduling three (points of distribution) a week .... remember we do have second doses to put in there as well," Redington said. 

The county opened an online scheduling tool which can be found at www.harveycounty.com/covid19vaccine. The health department is also maintaining a call center, open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at 316-836-4990. The department had about 300 slots available for  March 25 in the online portal. 

None of the county statistics, nor the scheduling tool, include vaccinations provided by other providers — a list that now includes Hesston Pharmacy, Harvey Drug and Gifts, Dillons Pharmacy, Walgreens Pharmacy, Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Health Ministries Clinic and Axtell Clinic. Links to each of those providers can be found at https://www.harveycounty.com/covid19vaccine

Within the last week the department reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total number of cases to 3,494 since the pandemic began. Of those, 3,403 have met recovery criteria. 

The county currently has 26 current active cases, a dramatic drop from highs of more than 100 in the last few months. 

"That feels nice to say and we continue to monitor all of those cases," Redington said. 

At the time of the count  report, there was one hospitalization of Harvey County residents for COVID-19 and one new death, bringing the death total to 65 since the pandemic began about a year ago. 

There have been 14,667 tested in the county to date, with 128 new tests last week. A total of 29,706 tests have been administered. 

As of Monday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed 300,125 cases of COVID-19 in the state to date, including 9,619 hospitalizations and 4,850 deaths. The KDHE reported 1,302,135 people tested for COVID-19 in Kansas.Local information on COVID-19 vaccines can be found at www.harveycounty.com/covid19vaccine.