Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccinations completed, Phase 2 started in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Tom Barker (right) checks in during a COVID-19 Point of Distribution (POD) vaccination day Thursday at Pratt Community Center, with Amy Schrag (at the table from the left), Crysta Mayer and Darcie Van Der Vyver. Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White kept a watch on the event.

The mood was light at the Pratt Community Center last Thursday as 350 individuals were vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I'm so happy to be here. We are doing our part to stomp this sucker out," said Fonda Pusatero.

In a wheelchair, Pusatero, accompanied by her husband, Al Pusatero, were classified as Phase 1, long-term care supported patients. They had previously registered with the Pratt County Health Department via a needs survey and received a call the day before that it was their turn to get vaccinated.

Pratt County Health Department employee Sherry Vierthaler helps Fonda and Al Pusatero of Pratt with COVID-19 vaccine instructions and information at a point of distribution clinic last Thursday at the Pratt Community Center. The Pusateros were among 350 individuals who received their COVID-19 round 1 vaccinations during the 5-stage process.

At the Pratt Community Center they were ushered through several check-points, as were all patients, in an efficient and organized fashion. Checkpoints were manned by medical personnel from the Pratt County Health Department, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Pratt Internal Medicine Group and Pratt Family Practice.

"We only get a two-day notice when the vaccines come in," said Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver. "It's fast and furious as we schedule the patients, get the medical staff and station-leaders lined up. Once we puncture a vial, we have to use all the doses within six hours, so we have to have a tight schedule. We will not waste a single dose here."

Van Der Vyver said those participating in the January 21 POD (point of distribution) were vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which will require a second shot in four weeks to be more fully effective in preventing the coronavirus.

The Moderna vaccine is an unapproved vaccine, but in ongoing clinical trials it has been shown to prevent COVID-19. The duration of that prevention is yet unknown.

"As of Thursday, we are out of COVID-19 vaccines in Pratt County," Van Der Vyver said. "Once we receive our next allocation of vaccine, we will again start calling people who signed up through the COVID-19 survey to schedule an appointment. We do not know when the next allocation is coming. We will provide updates as they become available."

Van Der Vyver said there was no guarantee when and how many round 1 vaccines would be sent to Pratt County. However, she said that round 2 shots were definitely coming.

Prior to January 21, Van Der Vyver said 238 people were vaccinated in 2 and a half hours with the first Moderna shot. Altogether, phase 1, which includes medical, fire, emergency, healthcare  and law enforcement workers, teachers, and long-term care senior residents, has been completed and phase 2 vaccinations are in progress. Phase 2 includes persons aged 65 and over, high contact critical workers and those in congregate settings.

Some residents experienced frustration last Thursday when they showed up at the community center hoping to get a shot even though they had not filled out the registration survey and were not sure how to go about getting on the call-list.

"We did take some information at the check-in table for future registrations," Van Der Vyver said. "But only those people with appointments and who had been called the day prior were allowed back through the process."

Working the check-in table at station 1, along with Van Der Vyver, were Crysta Mayer from Pratt Internal Medicine Group and Amy Schrag from Pratt Family Practice.

Sherry Vierthaler from the Pratt County Health Department, explained the process as area residents came through the first checkpoint where their appointments were verified.

"After their information has been verified at station 1, we give them a fact sheet for recipients and caregivers, and a consent form to fill out at station 2," Vierthaler said. "Then they got to station 3 where a nurse will give the shot. After that they go to station 4 to schedule a next appointment because this is a two-shot series. In station 5 they have the option to wait 15 minutes under supervision to make sure they do not have an adverse reaction."

Medical staff Jennifer Hassler from Pratt Family Practice (center, grey jacket), Debra Stegman from Pratt Family Practice (right), Crystal Freeman from the Pratt County Health Department (left, facing the other direction) and Deb Jantz and Amber Walker from PRMC (in the far background) work together giving COVID-19 vaccination shots Thursday at the Pratt Community Center.

According to Lisa Clifton, Pratt County EMS who worked in the station 5 observation room, there were not any adverse symptoms of reaction reported through the day.

"We just look for difficulty breathing, swelling, or increased heart rate," she said. "Anything that would be typical reaction from an anaphylactic shot."

Van Der Vyver said an additional website recommended by KDHE with up-to-date COVID-19 vaccine information could be found at kansasvaccine.gov.

"I've found it to be very helpful with safety and availability information, as well as frequently asked questions," she said.

Van Der Vyver said more POD sites would be set up as needed when more vaccinations were made available to Pratt County.

Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White and Pratt County Emergency Manager  Tim Branscom were also on hand Thursday, required by law to supervise the vaccine distrubution event.