UG to start giving COVID-19 vaccines to Health Department and EMS personnel next week

Unified Government Health Department workers and EMS personnel are expected to receive COVID-19 vaccines starting next week, according to an announcement today.

The UG Health Department is preparing for COVID-vaccines to arrive from Moderna next week, if emergency use authorization is granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

After Health Department workers and EMS, there will be other health care associated workers vaccinated, according to the announcement.

The vaccines will be given at the COVID-19 testing site at 7836 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, in a portion of the former Kmart building, according to the announcement.

“The arrival of the vaccine will provide a critical step in containing and ultimately defeating this pandemic, which has taken too many lives and significantly impacted our entire community. Until we have COVID-19 under control, we all must continue utilizing masks, maintain social distancing, and work to protect one another the best we can,” Mayor David Alvey said in a Health Department news release.

“It’s all hands on deck right now at the Health Department to ensure that we get the vaccination process up and running as smoothly as possible, and prepare to start rolling this out to more members of our community as additional vaccine supplies become available,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the Health Department, in the news release. “We are excited to be finalizing the set-up on our first vaccine distribution location at 78th and State, in the former Kmart building. We will still provide COVID-19 testing at this site, as we have been doing since October. We now have a separate section of the building set up specifically for vaccinations. The Kmart site is a more central location for the county. In addition, we are exploring options for two additional vaccine sites on the west and east sides of Wyandotte County.”

First phase of vaccinations

The first phase (Phase 1A) of the vaccination distribution follows directives outlined in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan (available for download at coronavirus.kdheks.gov). According to the directives from KDHE, the vaccine allotment provided to the UGPHD will be administered in the following order:

• UG Health Department and EMS staff (both public and private), including not only front-line clinical staff, but additional staff in other roles where they may be exposed to COVID-19, such as administrative or housekeeping staff.

• The broader health care-associated workforce. This includes those serving patients with physical, mental and behavior needs and dental health care needs.

• This also includes individuals within those settings who are not providing direct patient care but who are at risk given their job, such as registration desk staff, medical interpreters, housekeeping staff and other paraprofessionals.

As part of this initial phase, KDHE has notified the UG Health Department that it will receive approximately 800 vaccines next week, pending an emergency use authorization from the FDA for the Moderna vaccine. Additionally, local hospitals received Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines earlier this week to start providing vaccinations to the staff in their buildings. Long-term health care facilities enrolled in and are being supported directly by the federal vaccine effort through existing direct partnerships.

Kansas is slated to receive a total of 49,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21, if the EUA is granted, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. They received about 23,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week.

Upcoming phases

In the next phase of vaccines, some people who may be eligible include essential workers, people with preexisting conditions, and people age 65 and over, according to the Health Department news release.

More details on the eligibility criteria for this phase and future phases are still being determined by state and federal authorities. These details will be affected by the amount of vaccine supplies available early next year, according to local health officials.

Wyandotte County residents can learn more about COVID-19 online at wycokck.org/COVID-19 or
by calling 3-1-1. To learn more about the state of Kansas’ COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, visit coronavirus.kdheks.gov.

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