TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – The Coffey County Health Department is preparing to help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month to Phase 2 of the state plan; however, none of their 4 nurses will actually administer it.
In a call to 13 News on Wednesday (January 13), health department administrator Lindsay Payer said neither she nor her staff “feel comfortable” giving the vaccine. Instead, the county health department will enter into a contract with at least one external nurse to provide the vaccine and possibly other providers. They use COVID funds to cover it. The payer says that these are personal decisions that are made individually and not without special thought.
“I want to tell you that we will have to contract with staff outside our staff to give that vaccine because my staff is not familiar with it,”
However, it is clear that the county’s medical officer, Dr. Jeff Sloyer, does not share staff concerns. At this last Monday’s meeting of the county commission (January 11), he told the commissioners:
“Both of these vaccines were very well researched,” Solyer assured commissioners. “The Pfizer had over 40,000 people in their lawsuit, and the modern one had 30,000 people in their lawsuit, so I think that’s good.” Sloyer told commissioners the January 6 meeting generated great confusion and response on social media.
On January 8, Coffey County’s weekly update had 27 active COVID cases – 12 new cases and 16 recoveries.
In a phone call Wednesday morning (Jan. 13), Payer told 13 News that this is a personal decision on the part of each employee and is not intended to send any message – for or against receiving the vaccine. She insists they do not want to be a barrier to anyone getting the vaccine, and goes ahead and put in place a plan to ensure that all citizens of Coffey County who want to be vaccinated in phase 2 can . Members of the public age 65 and over will eventually be able to get the COVID vaccine likely by the end of this month. The health department has started a waiting list – one that from Monday’s commission meeting had grown to over 200 people in a few days. The payer says they have spoken to the Coffey Health System, indicating that they may be willing to provide help to the health department to provide the vaccine. In addition, Payer says that like the county’s health department, local pharmacies have also applied to KDHE to provide the vaccine. She believes there will be no shortage of places or opportunities for Coffey County residents to get the vaccine.
The payer points out that it is not uncommon for county health departments to enter into contracts with external providers for services such as vaccinations. She told 13 News that this is “not new, not unexpected” and their “choice as authorized professionals” to decide whether to administer a vaccine or not.
“Health departments across the state are considered vaccine experts,” Payer said in the phone call with 13 News. “We know how long it takes to develop a good vaccine and the research that goes into it. We did not take this decision lightly. We made this decision using the information we have. We want to preserve our integrity. Nurses have been known to be the most trusted profession and we want to maintain that trust. We want the public to make the best decision for them. ”
This Monday, Dr. Sloyer commissioners that the health department has worked very hard on the public vaccination plan. They have submitted their application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to receive the COVID vaccine and maintain a enrollment list for residents. In addition, due to potential liability issues, the health department will require those receiving the vaccine to sign a waiver. Dr. Solyer told the commissioners that they would receive the Moderna vaccine. Because patients need to be monitored shortly after the vaccine, Coffey County will set up their public vaccinations recently. While noting that reactions to the vaccine have been very rare, they will have Epipens and Benadryl on hand along with EMS.
At last week’s meeting (January 4), Payer told commissioners that COVID is now a part of our daily lives – comparing it to colds and flu.
“I think it’s safe to say that COVID is endemic now in our society,” Payer said. “We know it’s here to stay. We know it can not be controlled. It’s a virus. You can not stop a virus. We still do everything we can, but that’s what it is. It’s just becoming part of what we’re dealing with now. As a society, we probably need to make some decisions about what that means and how much more resources we will put into this. Knowing that it’s here, it’s like the cold or the flu. That’s normal now. That’s just what it is. ”
We have contacted a medical officer in Coffey County Dr. Jeff Sloyer, the county commissioner’s administrative assistant, and also a spokesman for KDHE to comment on this story.
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