Nearly 400 vaccinations given locally

As COVID-19 cases increase, the Bell County Health Department is working to vaccinate as many people as possible, approaching 400 vaccinations administered since the vaccines became available a few weeks ago.

Teresa Hunter, Public Health Director at the Bell County Health Department, provided an update on how the vaccinations are progressing.

“We received our first shipment on the Tuesday before Christmas,” Hunter said. “We did a drive through for first responders and non-hospital healthcare workers, then taking appointments thereafter because the vaccine is very fragile and you have to do these shots by appointment. Once you puncture a vial of vaccine it has to be used within six hours.”

Hunter said they work from a list of people interested in taking the vaccine.

“All they have to do is call, and somebody will talk to them, get a number and someone will call them back to schedule an appointment,” Hunter said.

Hunter pointed out vaccinations are prioritized based on the states’ phase classifications.

More information on Kentucky’s vaccine phases can be found here: https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-covid-vaccine

Hunter explained the Bell County Health Department is currently vaccinating Bell County residents.

“We are going to do Bell County residents first,” Hunter explained. “I have noticed that other counties are requiring proof or residency. We’re getting calls from all over the state wanting the vaccine…we’re obviously going to do Bell County residents first.”

Hunter asks those calling for information please be patient, since the staff is very busy with the vaccinations and other duties that must also be performed.

“That’s three people answering the lines, and one taking names and numbers to schedule for vaccines,” Hunter explained.

“We also have other health department business that we have to take care of. There are people needing their WIC updated and other things, so it’s not all COVID all the time.”

According to Hunter, as of Monday the Bell County Health Department has administered approximately 400 vaccine shots.

“The first shipments came in what they call a push method from Frankfort,” Hunter said. “They had asked us to do surveys in our county of how many wanted the shot…and then send in a request. I received what I asked for in three different shipments. They’re not always the same, but you will get a minimum of 100 because they will not ship anything less than 100.”

Hunter said the distribution changed to a pull method last week.

“We ordered it, based upon what we thought we would need to do this week,” Hunter said.

Hunter explained the Bell County Health Department can administer a maximum of 30 vaccinations a day, by appointment only. She hopes to be able to schedule another drive-thru vaccination program, however this will have to wait until there is enough vaccine available and will likely occur at a later phase when the vaccine is available to the general public.

“Please understand and be patient,” Hunter asks. “We are doing the best that we can, sometimes with limited information from Frankfort. Please do not be cruel or mean to the people that are answering the phones. They are just doing their job.

Some people are being belligerent and upset, and we are just doing the best job we can one shot at a time.”