Health department holds first drive-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic
PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Crawford County Health Department held its first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Wednesday, marking the first major local effort to get the vaccine out to more of the general public since Kansas entered Phase 2 of its distribution.
The clinic, held in the parking lot of the health department’s building, was by appointment only and for those ages 65 and older.
“Because the vaccine is so scarce, we have to do it by appointment,” said the clinic’s incident commander and health department consultant Janis Goedeke. “The biggest challenge is for the public to understand that this was a scheduled clinic because we’ve had some come through that thought it was just anyone could drive through.”
Participants filed into the parking lot in their cars, parked and waited to be greeted by one of the many volunteers running around in masks and vests identifying them as a vaccinator, assistant or registration official.
“We have volunteers from the Pitt State nursing department. We have some from Pitt State biology department. We have med students and health department employees,” Goedeke said. “We have county road and bridge helping us out. We’ve had the sheriff partner with us. We’ve had some good partnerships.”
After filling out paperwork and receiving their dose, the vaccine recipients were required to wait in their cars for 15 minutes so they could be monitored by staff.
“The vaccine is an emergency use authorized vaccine only,” Goedeke said, “and so to make sure they aren’t going to react to it we have them sit here for 15 minutes.”
Norma Feagins, 83 and one of the recipients of the vaccine, was very excited to be getting her first dose.
“I’m very happy to have gotten it and to have been on the list,” she said.
Feagins, who was wrapping up her 15-minute waiting period, said she was feeling great and that the whole process was nice.
“I feel fine,” she said. “It was well organized and very pleasant.”
Feagins said she has been very strict about isolating and social distancing over the last year and is excited to get her second dose so she can finally start doing things again.
“I am going to get a haircut,” she said excitedly, “and go to the dentist and go to Walmart.”
The health department’s vaccine clinic is just one of dozens taking place around the state as distribution begins to pick up steam. In fact, this week Gov. Laura Kelly announced the launch of the “Find My Vaccine” tool on the state’s vaccine information site.
“The ‘find my vaccine’ mapping tool allows any Kansan, regardless of where they live, to find the closest vaccine provider to their community,” Kelly said in a press release.
The map allows users to not only locate vaccine providers in their area but also shows which potential providers have not shared information with the state and which providers have not received “first dose vaccines this week.”
While many entities including the Crawford County Health Department are listed as active vaccination sites on the map, a larger portion of the potential vaccination providers are a part of the other two categories, highlighting a bigger problem going on throughout the state and the country.
“The national shortage continues to be the biggest obstacle to delivering vaccines, and that means, many of our enrolled providers do not yet have sufficient vaccines to offer to the general public,” Kelly said in a press release. “But we know it’s better to be ahead of the curve and have this platform ready to go before supply has caught up so that every Kansan is familiar with the tool and so we can be prepared as more providers are activated.”
For the Crawford County Health Department, the shortage has not stopped them, with 300 first-dose vaccines being given at Wednesday’s clinic and more expected to be given at another clinic on Thursday.
“It’s been awesome,” Goedeke said, “very well received.”
With the first vaccination clinic under their belt and more coming up in the future, Goedeke said it has been good practice for the department for when the vaccine is more widely available.
“We’re hoping to get larger doses of the vaccine soon and once we get that this will prepare us for giving the vaccine faster and be more efficient,” she said. “It’s good practice for us.”
Jordan Meier is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org