MURRAY — Monday, the Calloway County Health Department gave a detailed outline as to how the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered locally.

And while some residents of the community have been concerned that surrounding communities are ahead of Calloway in this regard, the health department’s chief officer said that was not the case, though it may seem like it.

“I think what we’re seeing there is that (other communities) are at different phases than we are,” said Kim Paschall, the department’s interim director of public health, as well as its nursing director. “It may be based on what they ordered. Maybe they had a little too much to begin with and decided to jump to the next phase before we did.

“It doesn’t mean that they are necessarily ‘ahead’ of us.”

The Kentucky Department of Public Health and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have outlined the order in which Americans are to receive the vaccine, according to a four-phase system.

What is being called “Phase 1A” has been underway since late December and includes health care personnel, as well as residents and staff of long-term care or assisted living facilities. In Calloway County, the process has reached “Phase 1B,” which includes first responders, as well as anyone 70 and older. This phase also includes kindergarten-through-12th-grade school personnel and it is believed those areas will be receiving their shots very soon.

“I haven’t talked to (nursing home or assisted living officials) yet this week, but I know the Department of Public Health is working with them through the federal government to assign either Walgreen’s or CVS to administer all of their vaccines,” Paschall said of how those national pharmacy/drug store chains are handling those facilities nationally. “I do know that Brookdale (in Murray) is going to be up this Thursday and that CVS is going to go in and take care of all of those residents and staff and I’m hearing others around town are going to have this too, so it looks like they’re going to try to take care of this at all of our facilities in the same day.

“I think (Murray-Calloway County Hospital) may run out (today), so I’d say they’ve given close to what they expected (hospital officials estimated that about three-fourths of their employees would receive the vaccine) and it could be that they’ve had more interest in people taking it than was anticipated, which is good. Now, also we had them help us with other health care workers (such as physicians, dentists, physical therapists, eye doctors, etc.), so that could also account for where they are now.”

Paschall said the county has about 500 residents who are 70 and older and do not reside in assisted living or long-term facilities on a waiting list. She said Monday those patients could begin receiving shots by Friday.

She also said that anyone who wishes to see how other counties are faring, and whether a spot on the schedule can be obtained, is welcome to try that.

Paschall said that patients in Calloway County wishing to receive the shot, for now, will be going to the health department office on Memory Lane in Murray. She added that she believes this will also evolve to include a drive-through style in which patients drive to a site and have a medical technician administer the shot as they sit in their vehicles, but it is not known when that will happen.

She said patients can contact the health department (270-753-3381) or their medical provider’s office for more information. Anyone 70 and older and who would like to receive the shot can go to the department website — www.callowayhealth.org — and add themselves or others to a call list. From that, the department will contact patients and give them a date and time for their vaccination.

Paschall also said that she is confident that there is and will be enough vaccines available for everyone who wants a shot to get one. On Monday, this also seemed to be reinforced when the office of Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that the commonwealth has received about $300 million in federal funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution.

McConnell’s office said that Kentucky was sent $257,152,034 to support statewide testing, contact tracing, and other initiatives to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Commonwealth also received $40,369,236 for vaccine distribution.

“Kentucky is on our way to beating this virus with safe and effective vaccines. I’m proud the additional targeted federal relief funding is helping protect Kentucky families,” McConnell said. “Through Operation Warp Speed, American researchers and healthcare heroes developed vaccines in record time. Now, hardworking Kentuckians at UPS and DHL Express are a critical link to sending these vaccines across the eastern United States. Together, we will finish this fight.”

“I heard something about this, but I’ve not gotten all of the details yet,” Paschall said of McConnell’s announcement. “I believe we are supposed to get a phone call (later Monday) about this. What I think this is about is that that they are just wanting to get this vaccine out and into people’s arms and I think it means more will be coming and things are going to move more quickly once that does happen.

For now, Paschall said that she does not anticipate medical providers’ offices being able to administer the vaccine themselves.

“But if we’re able to get more in, that could happen much more quickly,” she said, adding that this would mean people falling in the remaining phases of the plan could receive their shots quicker as well.

Those remaining phases are:

• Phase 1C    Anyone 60 and older, anyone 16 and older with CDC highest risk conditions, and all essential workers

• Phase 2    Anyone 40 and older

• Phase 3    Anyone 16 and older

• Phase 4    Children under 16 (if the vaccine is approved for this age group)

Paschall said, for now, the vaccine is not recommended for children under 16, which is why they are at the bottom of the list of priority. Like everything else with the pandemic, though, she said that also could change rapidly.  

One more thing Paschall wants to emphasize is that patients need to wait 15 to 20 minutes before they leave the venue where they are receiving shot after they are inoculated. This is because there is a chance that a reaction of some kind could develop and the health department is equipped with medications that can counteract those effects.

She also said, whether patients receive the shot in Calloway County, or elsewhere, they must remember which company supplied the vaccine because they will need that information for when they receive their booster within the following 28 days. So far, two companies are supplying shots in the United States, Pfizer and Moderna.

“We are keeping up with the lot numbers. expiration dates and everybody gets a vaccine card that has the name of the vaccine brand and the date it was received. That way, we know exactly what’s going on with them,” Pashcall said, adding that it appears 96-97% immunity to the coronavirus is achieved within two weeks of receiving the booster.

She said all patients who receive the first shot need to continue practicing COVID-19 preventative measures, including wearing a face mask, staying at least 6 feet from others and washing hands for at least 20 seconds, until two weeks after receiving the second shot. 

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