PAOLA — COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in the county.

Miami County Health Department reported it partnered with Lakemary Center on Friday, Jan. 8, in Paola to hold its first vaccine clinic in the center’s gymnasium for Lakemary staff and 100 healthcare and healthcare-associated workers serving Miami County.

Earlier in the week, the county health department reported receiving its first doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Jan. 4.

The department reported the 100 doses were going to Miami County Emergency Medical Services personnel, some public health workers, critical infrastructure employees and essential workers most at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

The department made good on that plan with the vaccination clinic Friday at Lakemary Center.

“We are so grateful for all of our community partners and couldn’t be more proud to partner with such a fantastic organization,” the health department posted on its Facebook page regarding Lakemary. “A big shout-out to Mark Whelan with Miami County Emergency Management, and Dr. Gray along with her entire team for making the whole process smooth and successful!”

The local health department said it continues to work with Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and its community partners to determine how to distribute the vaccines to best fit the needs of the community.

“We look forward to vaccinating many more citizens of Miami County when we receive additional doses and we will keep you updated on how many doses we receive and who will be eligible to receive the vaccine in the weeks to come,” the department said.

Miami County Medical Center received its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 16 and began vaccinating its front-line caregivers. Olathe Health reported it had received the vaccine doses from KDHE and some of the vials from that first shipment were distributed to the county hospital in Paola.

The county health department’s vaccination clinic Friday comes one day after Gov. Laura Kelly announced the five phases of her administration’s vaccination distribution plan for Kansans.

Kelly said the vaccine will be administered, beginning with those most at risk of contracting or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

The five phases are as follows:

  • Phase One — Healthcare workers; residents or patients in long-term care facilities and senior housing; workers critical to pandemic response continuity. The governor noted Phase One groups have already begun to receive vaccines.
  • Phase Two — Persons ages 65 and older; congregate settings; high-contact critical workers.
  • Phase Three — Persons ages 16 to 64 with severe medical risks; other critical workers.
  • Phase Four — Persons ages 16 to 64 with other medical risks.
  • Phase Five — The rest of Kansans ages 16 and over. The governor’s plan noted distribution to children is subject to further research on vaccine risks and effectiveness for children.

For specific descriptions of the type of professions, medical conditions and other information about each phase, go to https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Vaccine-Distribution-Order-1.pdf

“These COVID-19 vaccination phase groups were created using guidance from national and state public health experts and with input from the Kansas Coronavirus Vaccine Advisory Council (COVAC) which represents a diverse group of populations in Kansas,” Kelly said in a press release. “My priority remains providing every Kansan with updates and information on vaccine schedules as we get them and to get everyone vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Local long-term care facilities have started receiving vaccines.

Life Care Center of Osawatomie has had its first round of the vaccine, said Tammi Conner, the center’s business development coordinator, in an email Monday, Jan. 11.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team said it would seek to release nearly all available doses to speed up distribution across the nation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of Friday, Jan. 8, that 22 million doses had been shipped but only about 6.7 million people had received their first shot — far short of the U.S. goal of 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020.

Two doses of the COVID-19 are required, and some critics of the president-elect’s plan to release nearly all doses have expressed concerns that supplies will not be able to keep up with the need to administer the second dose in time for it to be effective.

Supporters of Biden’s plan have said releasing the additional doses will save lives and cut down hospitalizations.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com

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