By Jessie Wagoner
The first round of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived in McPherson County, last week. All 130 doses, which were received, were administered quickly.
“McPherson County Health Department received notification that 130 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine would be delivered in the following three days,” Shalei Shea, director of the McPherson County Health Department said. “Five hours later, MCHD took possession of those doses. After intense planning and organizing with key partners, MCHD administered the first 30 doses to McPherson County health care-associated workers on Dec. 23. MCHD administered the remaining 100 doses on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, to health care-associated workers and first responders.”
At this time, only health care workers and first responders are eligible to receive the vaccine, as it is in limited supply. COVID-19 vaccine distribution is regulated at the federal and state level. Shea says there is little to no warning of when additional vaccines will arrive. Both McPherson Center for Health and the McPherson County Health Department have asked for patience from the public as they wait for the vaccine to arrive in larger quantities.
“MCHD will reach out to providers and entities as more information becomes available and as Kansas progresses through the vaccination phases,” Shea said. “We do not know at this time if it will be readily available for the general public at MCHD, hospitals or doctor offices. Please continue to have patience with us as more information is passed down through the state. We do not have any control of when doses arrive or who they are prioritized for at this time and as soon as information is available, MCHD will make it public.”
There is no need to call the health department or your private doctor, regarding the vaccine. When it is made available for public distribution, notifications will be made.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the availability of vaccine, while limited for the time being, will increase dramatically as production increase rapidly. Recommendations for each phase of distribution will take many factors into account, including each vaccine’s characteristics, vaccine supply, disease epidemiology and local community factors. At this time, KDHE projects the vaccine will be available to the general public during the summer of 2021.
In the meantime, health officials recommend continuing to follow recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19. Those include social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 15 people, wearing a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained and practicing good hygiene.
McPherson County continues to see cases climb. As of the last update issued by MCHD on Dec. 30, a total of 2,428 cases have been reported in McPherson County. Of those cases, 1,065 were considered active. There were a total of 20 current hospitalizations and 27 deaths.
The health department has advised they will only be providing COVID-19 updates two times per week in 2021. Updates will be issued on Tuesday and Thursday, beginning Jan. 4. The MCHD will continue to provide contact tracing, vaccine distribution and other community health services.
“MCHD staff would like to thank the 130 vaccine recipients for not only working with us, but for spearheading a turning point in this pandemic for McPherson County,” Shea said. “Every single recipient has dedicated their time and effort to keeping McPherson County safe during the pandemic and we are thankful for you.”