With Wayne County under a Winter Weather Advisory on Feb. 4, where the winter storm that blew through the state turned into blizzard-like conditions, Shelley Bickel was unsure how many of the scheduled appointments for that date would come in for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Nearly everyone else across the state canceled their clinics, but we moved forward and shockingly we had just over 100 still make it in, in a blizzard,” exclaimed Bickel, Administrator for Wayne County Public Health. “The people here want this vaccine and they are coming. That is a statement right there!”
Bickel has been busy planning and overseeing the logistics for the COVID vaccine clinic along with her staff. February 4 marked the first of a two-day clinic where 210 doses of the Moderna vaccine were distributed.
“We have 900 people on our waiting list and after this two-day clinic we will have 210 that have received their first dose,” Bickel stated. “We received 210 doses this week and will be receiving 100 next week and we will continue running these clinics every week for as long as we can get our hands on the vaccine to give.”
“I have told the state we can do 500 to 700 a week if they could get the vaccines to us,” Bickel added. “Once we receive the vaccines we are working on a two-day turnaround to move it as fast as we can getting into the arms.”
The minute you walk in the door to the Walden Park clubhouse, you can see firsthand how organized the vaccine clinic is. Broken off into sections with volunteers helping every step of the way, the only obstacle for the two-days seemed to be the nasty weather outside.
“We are running like a well oiled machine right now,” said Bickel. “The City of Corydon has been great letting us use this building and working on snow removal for parking and access to the building also.”
“Things are running so smooth and we only had three not make it in yesterday and we easily got those filled, echoed WCPH nurse Susan Moore. “People were coming in no matter how bad the weather was and they were excited!”
Once entering, Missy Niday and Jessica Hysell are stationed by the front door to greet people, collect paperwork and get them checked in. Emergency Management Director Bill Byrns is stationed with Hysell as they collect driver’s licenses to have the special vaccine identification card made for each person complete with date of birth, date of vaccine along with other information taken from the driver’s license.
Cathy Couchman, who has graciously donated lunch once a month since March of last year to the staff at WCPH, assists those checked in down the path of one of three aisles where Charlotte Van Fleet, Linda Fain and Dorene McCart are stationed to complete a vaccine card which lists date of first dose given and date when second dose will be needed.
With no appointment reminder phone calls being made, the cards are important for reference for the second dose.
Bonita Wells, a former nurse, stays busy drawing up syringes for quicker dose administration. Susan Moore, Deidre Buttz and Jen Shelton are the nurses behind the curtains administering the vaccines. Neil McCart works with patients in the 15-minute holding area as he goes over the list of possible side effects and checks in on patients before they are released.
The majority of those scheduled for their first vaccine dose were ages 65 and older along with a few teachers from local school districts.
“We have already visited each of the three school districts in our county and administered roughly 122 vaccines to those that wanted it at that time and on Feb. 19 we will return to give the second dose at all three schools,” said Bickel. “We have also given vaccines to the fire departments and funeral staff members that wanted it and we are trying to now trying to interject the teachers as they call, but our main goal is to get the seniors over 65 years and we have a lot of them.”
Bickel stated as they are now in their second month administering vaccines, there have been no serious side effects noted from the first prime dose. Headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and sore arms have been noted from the second boost dose.
“We are giving the Moderna brand vaccine and it is important for people to know if they receive their first dose somewhere other than with us, we are unable to give the second dose on the date needed,” Bickel advised.
On top of the vaccine clinics, the staff at WCPH is continuing to do normal day-to-day operations including home health care.
“This has truly been the best part of the pandemic where we are giving the vaccine, Bickel said in closing. “We have been working so hard and hearing the thank you’s and seeing relief on people’s faces makes it even better.”
Anyone unable to make it inside for their shot, may ask for the nurse to come to them for the dose to be administered while remaining in their vehicle. Another 100 vaccines are expected to arrive this week for the staff at WCPH to administer. Anyone with questions or to be added to the vaccine list can contact Wayne County Public Health at (641) 872-1167.