County vaccination efforts making headway

Chad Frey
The Kansan
According to the CDC, about 15.6 percent of the total population of Harvey County has been vaccinated.

According to county administration and the Harvey County Health Department, the county is "leading the way" for COVID-19 vaccinations — with one of the highest vaccination rates for counties in the region. 

"Based on the state's numbers, over 10,000 [people] have received the vaccine for the age of 18 and up ... that would be about 40 percent of our population 18 plus have received the vaccine," said county administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. "That is very, very positive. ... Kudos to our community partners and the health department on getting vaccines out and available to our residents. ... This is something we should be very proud of."

According to the CDC, about 15.6 percent of the total population of Harvey County has been vaccinated. In comparison, 9.6 percent of Sedgwick County 16 percent of Reno County, 11.4 percent of Butler County and 18.7 percent of McPherson County have had at least one dose of the vaccine. 

"We are still leading the area counties around us, we are now at 318.5 per 1,000 people vaccinated with at least one dose," said Lynette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. 

The county health department has given 6,215 doses of the vaccine and continues to allow for online signups for the vaccine. The county has moved with the state of Kansas to the next phase of vaccinations, making anyone age 18 or older eligible for the vaccine. 

The department is able to vaccinate about 50 people per hour.

Harvey Drug, in partnership with the Health Department, offered a walk-in vaccination clinic last week. That partnership also will offer a clinic at Newton High School for students 16 and older. Those seeking vaccination through the high school clinic will require parental approval and consent. 

In addition, Dillon's Pharmacy, Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Walgreens. Health Ministries and Axtell Clinic are all offering vaccinations. 

For information on vaccinations or to set an appointment, the county website is located at https://harveycounty.com/covid19vaccine.

The county did see an increase in the number of cases last week — adding 35 new active cases to the county department load. To date 14,961 individuals in Harvey county have been tested with more than 30,000 tests aministered. To date, the department has worked  3,529 cases worked in Harvey County, with 39 cases active this week. 

"We now have 35 new cases, and [we] recognize this is one week after spring break/ We'll see what next week brings," Redington said. 

The percent positivity rate went up as well — to 6.72 percent. 

"It has gone up for two reasons. We have had less individuals getting a PCR test than we have the previous few weeks. Again, if you have been around an individual who has COVID-19 or you are curious, please go get a test. It would be the PCR tests that go into the percent positivity rate. Those are the free tests you can get in Harvey County. ... And we have had an increase in positive cases."

To date, 65 people from Harvey County have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.