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Vaccine slowly making way to the public

By Dennis Minich

Although the process is slower than anyone would like, COVID-19 vaccines are making their way to the public.

Cass Regional Medical Center completed its second round of vaccination clinics last week and is bracing for its third scheduled for Feb. 24-27. Working with the Cass County Health Department, the hospital is hoping to start putting a dent in the waiting list which includes 23,000 applicants.

Sonya McLelland, the hospital’s administrative director of foundation, marketing and public relations, said everyone is working to improve the system.

“People on the list should start hearing something in the next few days,” she said. “There are 15,000 people who qualify in
phases one and two, so it will take a while when you can only give 400 to 800 shots every other week.”

Although it took some time to work out the details, the process seemed smooth when Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler visited the clinic last week. The process includes a first station for registration. The recipient next goes to actually receive the shot. A third station records the infor mation for the state and schedules a timefor the second dose and finally recipients move to a waiting area to make sure they suffer no side effects before being dismissed.

CRMC CEO Chris Lang said the coordination between the hospital and health department is improving. “When we have doses, we would like to just be able to give them out, but we continue with the process because you have to have some kind of sign up to keep this flowing. Every day we run the clinic, we learn something new,” Lang said.

He said the job is tough because vaccines are still in short supply.

“Every week we receive advanced notice of how many doses the state is going to receive. It’s been around 100,000 but we are expecting 90,000 next week. When you realize that is the allotment for the whole state, you understand how hard it is for the
state to ration it out.

Eventually, Belton Regional Medical Center is planned to help work down the county’s waiting list, but as of Tuesday, the hospital has still not been informed when it will receive any vaccine.

There are other options. For example, the National Guard recently held a mass vaccination even at Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton. It is unknown if one may come to Cass County.

Vaccinations are also available at Walmart in Butler. Dan Swanson, a pharmacist there, said the store has been receiving enough vaccine for about 200 shots per week.

To get an appointment, you can go to Walmart.com and fill out an appointment request.

Swanson said the criteria is you have to be over age 65 or have an underlying medical condition or be an essential worker. The store schedules appointments from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sara Lee, the RN infection control specialist and coordinator of employee health at CRMC, said volunteers from both the hospital and community are making the clinics work. She said during a typical day, it takes 15 people at a time with the day
lasting seven hours. She said precautions are taken for both patients and volunteers, including screening, masks and goggles.

She said while some people have reported some side effects from the shot, including a slight fever, chills, body aches and soreness at the injection site, there have been no cases of any more severe reactions.

There was no answer at the Cass County Health Department when The Tribune attempted to contact them for this story.

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