Vaccine rollout effort continues in Butler County

Chad Frey
Butler County Times Gazette

The Butler County Health Department has been working hard to get shots of a COVID-19 vaccine to the people who need them since vaccines were first released in December. 

The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine given in Butler County were given to healthcare workers at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital on Dec. 17.

This week the department announced a new effort — a Wednesday night clinic.  The county's Vaccine Page now has appointment times open for the evening of Wednesday, April 14th at https://coronavirus-vaccine-outreach-bucogis.hub.arcgis.com.

As of Monday, however, there were more openings available than expected. 

"We were hoping it would [help reach more people], but as of this morning we only had filled 50 of the 100 slots for Wednesday evening," said Jamie Downs, director of the Butler County Health Department. 

The clinic will be at the department's El Dorado location, 206 N. Griffith,

 Suite B. The department, like the state of Kansas, has opened vaccine access to anyone 16 and older — however the vaccine being given at this time, the Moderna vaccine, is only approved for those ages 18 and and older.

The county created the evening clinic after the success of a pair of Sunday clinics. 

"We were not filling our daytime slots so we thought we would offer some alternate times," Downs said.  "Sunday, March 29, we did two Sunday afternoon clinics. Those were very  received, but those were also for Johnson and Johnson vaccines."

The most recent statistics show 15% of people living in Butler County are fully vaccinated as of April 6, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they've been given a single-dose shot (Johnson & Johnson) or a second shot (either Pfizer or Moderna).

Downs said those numbers are likely accurate, and that the county Health Department does not have statistics that reflect vaccines given by private pharmacies.  https://vaccinefinder.org/ lists about 30 providers in a 25-mile radius of El Dorado, 50 within 25 miles of Rose Hill and nine within 25 miles of Beaumont.

"We know that there needs to be outreach," Downs said. "Trying to get the word out as far as safety and information on the vaccine. We are discussing taking our show on the road and going to some of our smaller communities to set up vaccine clinics. ... Reaching those people who maybe do not have transportation to get to El Dorado or Andover."  

The Wednesday evening clinic, she said, will be evaluated after it occurs. Numbers will determine if the department will do another evening clinic. 

And, she said, receiving more Johnson & Johnson vaccines — a one-shot vaccine as opposed to a two-shot vaccine — will help get more people vaccinated. The company has had supply issues, and shipments to Kansas have been reduced and delayed. 

"I know there are lot of people wanting the Johnson & Johnson. Once we get more of that, we will probably offer an evening clinic," Downs said.