Ford County Health Department awaits for more vaccines for Phase 1

By Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
The first batch of the Moderna vaccine sent to Ford County Health Department has been distributed, according to administrator Angela Sowers.

Ford County Health Department administrator Angela Sowers confirmed the department has used all that its been allocated of the Moderna vaccine that qualified under Phase 1 of Gov. Laura Kelly's phased plan for vaccinations.

The question was raised to the health department when district director of safety and security Shawn Lampe told the Dodge City Unified School District 443 Board of Education at its Jan. 11 meeting, "I spoke with Angela Sowers at the Health Department, they had used all the vaccines they have been given."

Sower’s clarified in an email, “The Health Department used all the vaccine that was provided to them by the State of Kansas to vaccinate those that qualify in Phase One.

"Once the health department receives more vaccine, we will continue working through Phase One until completed, some USD 443 staff may qualify in Phase One.”

Per data by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in a link that details all five current phases of the vaccination plan, those that fall under the first phase include:

• Healthcare workers

• Residents or patients in long‐term care (LTC), senior housing or LTC‐supported independent living

• Workers critical to pandemic response continuity

Sowers further clarified that Ford County Health Department had depleted its vaccine stock to be used in Phase 1 before Jan. 5.

Physician R.C. Trotter commended the vaccine while dispelling the negative rumors that the vaccine is harmful.

“The vaccines are safe and effective. Yes, some people have some aches, and some have gotten short-term fever,” said Trotter.

Trotter does share the common public concern about the quantity of vaccine and its availability to everyone, as well as what deems them a priority to receive it.

He said that while the vaccine is not moving fast, it is important for those prioritized in the current phase to have both shots required for the Moderna vaccine to be effective, or the Pfizer vaccine, which had been distributed at Western Plains Medical Complex.

Some people, like social worker Evan Benson, have expressed frustrations at not being considered a priority for Phase 1 of the vaccine, like health care workers and first responders, despite his work routinely bringing him in close proximity of people.

“I work in adoption and I have to go home to home across the state to see kids and ensure their safety,” explained Benson.

According to the COVID-19 vaccine prioritization by KDHE, the means to develop the vaccination phases for Kansas is based on who in the population is prioritized as a public health risk and critical to state infrastructure.

When asked when the Ford County Health Department can expect the vaccine allocated for Phase 2, Sowers said, “The vaccine for Phase Two and so on will arrive to the health department through a courier and/or a method of shipping that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has chosen to utilize.”

Information regarding the KDHE COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization, including a phase timeline can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yy55qmjm/.

According to a more detailed Phase 1-5 timeline, Phase 2 of vaccination efforts should start between late January and March. That timeline can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y2oaswv5/.