• Last modified 1183 days ago (Jan. 20, 2021)


Vaccine closer as surge goes on

Pharmacies help with nursing home patients

Staff writer

Even as COVID-19 cases continue an unprecedented surge and the number of vaccinations reaching Marion County is slow and unpredictable, the health department is trying to plan for how it will make vaccinations available to the public.

So far, health care workers who want the shots have gotten them and pharmacies are working to give shots to nursing home residents.

It remains unknown, though, when and how the public will get vaccinations.

Health department administrator Diedre Serene told county commissioners that hospitals, clinics, and the health department are working together to fight the spread of the virus.

CVS, Hillsboro Community Pharmacy, and Walgreens also are vaccinating residents of area nursing homes.

Tracy Lanning, owner of Lanning Pharmacy, said she did not apply to be a vaccine provider because she’d have had to hire another pharmacist to assist with the vaccinations.

“It seems like what we’re seeing for nursing homes, they need to get the nursing homes promptly,” commissioner David Crofoot said.

Serene said a nursing home missed the deadline to sign up for vaccinations and the Hillsboro pharmacy is reaching out to them.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment might have local health departments decide tiers for the next phase of vaccinations. Both the health department and clinics in the county are collecting names of people who want the vaccine, Serene said.

Serene said she expects KDHE to announce the next stage of vaccinations this week.

“My thoughts would be to go 75 and older, then 65 to 74, then get school personnel, then reach out from that,” she said.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said children younger than 5 should perhaps be high on the list.

Serene said she’s been talking with county schools about how many staff members wish to be vaccinated.

“Right now we have about 300 school staff who would want that, so we are going to have to tier it,” Serene said.

When the health department starts scheduling vaccinations for people other than health care workers, she’d rather vaccinate a husband and wife at the same time if their ages would put them into different age categories.

“If we call someone 80 years old but has a spouse who is 70, I really think we’ll go ahead and vaccinate them,” she said.

Serene said volunteers will be needed when public vaccinations begin. She has spoken to emergency services director Travis Parmley about having them help with the 15-minute observation required when people are vaccinated. She wondered if road and bridge department personnel could help with traffic control.

She also said she wondered if other county departments could spare some people to help out with the effort.

Commissioner David Crofoot said some businesses might be able to send volunteers as well.

“I know I could spare two people,” he said. “I might have to rotate them in and out.”

Commissioner David Mueller told Serene he appreciates all the preparation being done now for public vaccinations.

Serene also asked commissioners what they think about charging a fee to give the vaccinations, noting that most insurance companies will pay an administrative fee.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he’s heard people say that if there’s an administrative fee, they won’t get the shot.

“What I’m hearing you say is, let’s not charge an administration fee,” Serene said.

Last modified Jan. 20, 2021