Vaccination clinic prep

Above, the Calloway County Health Department’s interim director of public health, Kim Paschall, prepares vaccines Sunday morning as the regional vaccination site was getting ready to open to appointments. At left, a sign shows people where to enter.

MURRAY – Although the earlier-than-expected snowfall Sunday morning was unwelcome, that didn’t stop the Calloway County Health Department and Murray State University from plowing ahead with the first day of the regional vaccination site at the CFSB Center.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Feb. 4 that Murray State had been chosen as a regional site and that it would open for appointments on Feb. 10. Because of the ice storm that hit the area last week, that opening date was moved to the following Wednesday, Feb. 17, but as forecasts started predicting heavy snowfall for this week, it was moved again to Sunday, Feb. 14.

While snow was not expected to begin falling until Sunday night, Murray residents awoke Sunday to a generous dusting. While CCHD’s interim director of public health, Kim Paschall, was not thrilled about the new development, she said she was eager to get as many people vaccinated as she could before the worse weather reached the area.

“I’m nervous about the weather and I’m nervous about our elderly folks getting in and out of the building safely, but we have tremendous community support,” Paschall said Sunday morning as she and others were setting up at the site. “From Murray-Calloway County Hospital to Murray State University, you can see we’ve already got a good number here that are willing to help, including nursing faculty and workers from the hospital. So we’re very excited. All the support that we’ve got has given us enough help to do this safely.”

In addition to the CFSB Center, the Calloway County government announced on Friday that three additional sites in Murray – in addition to the health department – would be offering vaccinations by appointment. As provided from the Office of Governor, below is a list of state vaccination sites located in Murray with contact information to sign up or call:

• CFSB Center: Sign up at http://www.callowayhealth.org or call 270-753-3381.

• Kroger, 808 North 12th St.: Sign up at https://kroger.com/covidvaccine or call 866-211-5320

• Calloway County Health Department: Call 270-753-3381.

Federal program participants in Murray are:

• Walgreen’s, 1205 Main St.: Sign up at https://www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19?ban=covid_vaccine_landing_schedule or call 270-762-8991.

• Walter’s Family Pharmacy, 604 South 12th St.: Call 270-753-7688.

Several Murray State officials were at the CFSB Center for the site opening, including President Bob Jackson, Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Jackie Dudley and Director of Government and Institutional Relations Jordan Smith. 

“I’m very proud of our partnership with the Calloway County Health Department, the hospital and city and county government, Village Medical Primary Care and Dr. Bob Hughes (the co-founder of VMPC and chief medical officer for Murray State Health Services),” Jackson said during the site setup. “There’s a number of people who have worked very hard to make sure this site was advanced for our region. It’s enabled the region to get more vaccine quantities and to do the vaccinations much more quickly. The quicker we can get shots in arms, the better off we all are. So it’s the beginning of the end of the pandemic. We’ve got to be hopeful and positive.”

Jackson said he appreciated the hard work of everyone involved, especially the CCHD personnel who are running the site with the state’s assistance.

“The quantities of vaccines (that have been available so far) are concerning and the weather has been concerning, but we are making Sunday work, and Murray State is proud to assist from a logistics and facilities standpoint,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of people here who will be helping today. This is what we should be doing and this is the least Murray State can do in order to get (the number of vaccinations in the region) where it needs to be. Also, we’ve got to finish Phase 1B (of the vaccine rollout) and the elderly of this region, and then we can move on to 1C, which includes the faculty and staff at Murray State University. We want to make sure we are addressing all those needs.”

Jackson said local elected officials and his administration at Murray State had lobbied the Governor’s Office and Secretary of Transportation Jim Gray to bring a regional vaccination site to Murray for several weeks before the announcement was made.

“We started talking with state government, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Jim Gray prior to the first of the year,” Jackson said. “As soon as we knew vaccines were coming in larger quantities to the Commonwealth, we started having conversations. I talk two or three times a day with Secretary Gray, and the governor and the Governor’s Office have been extremely helpful because they understand the need to have a larger presence in the Jackson Purchase region in order to accommodate the need. As we’ve all heard in the last few days, Walgreens, CVS, Walters Pharmacy, Kroger and other independent pharmacies throughout the region are going to be getting quantities very, very quickly. So again, we need to encourage everyone who wants a vaccine to get a vaccine as quickly as possible wherever they can get it. This is one place they can get it at the CFSB Center at this regional site, and there will be other locations too.”

Jackson added that Jordan Smith had been instrumental in getting the regional vaccination site to Murray. He said Smith was also appointed as a health and safety officer when the pandemic started. 

As he arrived at the vaccination site Sunday morning, Hughes said it was exciting that the site is not only getting more local people vaccinated now, but also gets the community at the table in regard to keeping up with new shipments coming out from the state.

“Being one of the first eight vaccination centers in the state, we suspect we will have plenty of access to vaccine as it becomes available,” Hughes said. “We are also on weekly conference calls, so we are up-to-date about what’s going on in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Hughes said Kentucky has done quite well so far with administering the vaccines that have been made available to the state, and he thought CCHD staff had also done an impressive job.

“The (state’s) goal is to get 90% of the vaccines in the peoples’ arms as soon as we get it,” he said. “That’s a pretty aggressive goal, but so far, the state’s done excellently, and the Calloway County Health Department, to my knowledge, has not wasted a single dose. I think their first shipment came in Dec. 21, and they’ve got all the Phase 1A people (including health care workers, first responders and elected officials) and now we’re getting all the people over 70, and then the next group that’s going to come online will be those over 60. And then this will just keep going on. You just get this feeling that we’re on the precipice of the floodgates opening where there’s going to be plenty of vaccine for everybody.”