By Eugenia Jones
The Lake Cumberland District Health Department (LCDHD) is in the process of receiving 4,000 doses of 1st/prime doses of COVID-19 vaccine over a three week span to spread across the district’s ten counties including McCreary. The doses of vaccine are strictly for those in Phases 1A or 1B including those ages seventy and older. McCreary County received a total of 360 doses of the vaccine. This week, the McCreary County Health Department will administer 180 shots (90 on Wednesday/90 on Friday.) During the next two weeks, the local health department will administer vaccinations on Wednesdays with 90 doses administered each week. All McCreary County appointment slots have been taken.
All ten health departments-including McCreary- began making appointments by phone on Monday. By the end of Tuesday, all appointment slots for nine of the ten counties-including McCreary-had been filled. Although, LCDHD had multiple phone lines and operators, they still found demand was greater than supply. On Monday, there were more than 300,000 attempted dial-ins for the 4,000 slots. On Tuesday, LCDHD’s phone and internet service provider went down adding another layer of frustration. LCDHD re-routed calls as best they could, but it was a hit-and-miss solution.
“I know it is frustrating when people dial in, and lines are busy,” LCDHD Director Shawn Crabtree said. “But we expanded our phone lines and added more operators, and we still found demand for the vaccine outpaced supply. We apologize to anyone we were unable to accommodate at this time.”
Despite the frustration of having greater demand than supply, Crabtree said it really is a modern miracle that, in less than a year, vaccines have been developed and prime (first dose) vaccinations have been administered to LCDHD nursing home residents, school staff, health professionals, and approximately half of the population ages seventy and above.
More sites, including more Lake Cumberland area sites, will be opening in the weeks to come. Individuals interested in receiving the vaccine may call 1-855-598-2246 or visit vaccine.ky.gov to find out if they are eligible and where to receive the vaccine. However, remember, supplies are still limited, it may take several weeks to secure an appointment.
Locally, the COVID-19 vaccination status consists of the following.
Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital continues to serve as a regional vaccination hub and receives 500 prime/1st dose vaccines each week for those in the 1A and 1B group, including those ages 70 and older. Their COVID-19 hotline phone number is 1-844-675-3390.
Through a contract with the federal government, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies continue to vaccinate the long-term care facilities and personal care homes-residents and staff.
The Lake Cumberland District Health Department will continue to make appointments when vaccine is available. They are not keeping a waiting list.
Walgreens in Whitley City is expected to receive a limited supply of vaccine soon.
Select providers received doses of vaccine for school staff including Kroger Pharmacy in Whitley City. Kroger administered approximately 210 prime vaccinations to McCreary County school staff during a school clinic.
The latest allotment of vaccine to the LCDHD is particularly welcome in McCreary County after local government officials and the public voiced displeasure over McCreary County being one of three counties eliminated from receiving vaccine from an allotment of 700 surplus doses sent to the LCDHD by the state last week. Additionally, McCreary County school staff were last in the ten-county health district to begin receiving state allotted vaccinations for school employees
“We’re happy we are starting to get our fair share down here,” noted EMA Director Stephen McKinney.
McCreary County Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene voiced his displeasure over last week’s incident in letters to McCreary County’s State Senator Max Wise and Representative Kenneth Upchurch.
According to Greene, both Senator Wise and Representative Upchurch responded to his letters.
“Senator Wise said my letter was given to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Transportation Department since the KY Transportation Department is helping with the vaccine,” Greene stated. “Senator Wise also said he gave them my contact number but I have not heard from them. However, I’m pleased we are included in this latest allotment of vaccines.”
It should be noted the local Health Department did not determine which counties received vaccines from last week’s 700 dose surplus allotment. Kentucky’s Department for Public Health is responsible for controlling where vaccines are distributed.