Vaccine expected to arrive in county this week


LAWRENCE, Kan. – While a new COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed around the country, it was unclear Monday how quickly it will be administered in Leavenworth County.

Stephanie Sloop, a spokeswoman for Leavenworth County’s COVID-19 response team, cited information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment indicating the first round of doses will be delivered this week to hospitals in the state.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The vaccine was developed the Pfizer drug company.

Sam Allred, spokesman for Saint John Hospital, said he does not have a timeline for when the Leavenworth hospital will receive doses of the vaccine, but it is anticipated to occur this week.

“Like everybody else, we’re kind of waiting to get final word,” he said.

He said frontline employees at the hospital who come into contact with patients in the emergency room, intensive care and COVID-19 units will receive the initial vaccinations.

“That’s where the first doses will go,” he said.

The KDHE’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is based on three phases of availability of vaccines. And Phase 1 is broken into two parts – 1A and 1B.

In Phase 1A, it is anticipated the vaccine will be available for health care workers who are likely to be exposed to or treat people with COVID-19, according to the KDHE plan.

In Phase 1B, the vaccine likely will be available for people who are considered to be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, people who are 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and other essential workers.

“As vaccines are available, the (Leavenworth County Health Department) will offer the vaccine to those that fit priority levels identified by the state,” Sloop said in an email. “The health department will assist in providing the vaccine to the community once it is available to do so.”

The Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth is not among the 37 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers selected to receive doses of the vaccine in the initial wave.

The department released a list last week of the first 37 VA medical centers that will receive the vaccine. The list does not include any sites in Kansas.

The vaccine will be administered to frontline health care works and veterans in long-term care units at the 37 locations.

These 37 centers were chosen for their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures, according to a news release from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joseph Burks, spokesman for the Eisenhower VA Medical Center, said in an email that the Leavenworth hospital may receive doses once a vaccine developed by drug company Moderna also has been approved for emergency use.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine.

Burks said the Department of Veterans Affairs has an ultimate goal of offering vaccines to all employees and all veterans who receive VA care.

On Monday, the Leavenworth County Health Department reported 95 new community cases of the virus in the county as well as one additional case among inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility and one additional case among inmates at the CoreCivic Leavenworth Detention Center.