The Purchase District Health Department has launched an online registration form for people within Phase 1 who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The form can be accessed by going to PurchaseHealth.org. It’s only for people who live within Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman and McCracken counties who are within the subcategories of Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. They include health care workers and first responders in Phase 1a, school employees and people 70 or older in Phase 1b, and people 60 or older, high-risk individuals 16 and older, and essential workers in Phase 1c.
High-risk individuals 16 and older include those with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, a weakened immune system from an organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes, and those who smoke.
Essential workers include employees in corrections, food and agriculture, manufacturing, mail delivery, public transit, grocery stores, transportation and logistics, food service shelter and housing, finance, IT and communication, energy, media, legal services, public safety (engineers), and water and wastewater.
“The purpose of the registration form is to allow our public to be able to get their name on a list,” said Kent Koster, public health director of the Purchase District Health Department. “We can’t schedule yet outside of the 1a population. So we want to make sure that we get people who want a vaccine on a list so that whenever the vaccine becomes available, we can call them and let them know that the vaccine is available now, and we’d like to schedule you for an appointment.”
Koster said even before launching the online vaccine registration form, many people contacted the health department to express interest in being vaccinated. He said thousands of people have either called or emailed, most of them being in the 70-plus age group, with the rest being in the Phase 1c group.
Meanwhile, Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital in Paducah started vaccinating people 70 and older this week. The process began after Koster got approval from Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health
“When I had that discussion with him, he said that we can go ahead and move to the 70-plus population,” Koster said. “So that’s when I called Lourdes and let them know that we now need to open that up to the 70-plus population so that we can use the vaccine that’s been allocated. And one of the things that Dr. Stack wants everybody to do that gets vaccine allocated to them, is to use up at least 90% of that vaccine each week.”
Kevin Compton, public relations manager for Mercy Health, said vaccinations for people 70 and older at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital began Monday. Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment should visit Mercy.com and search “Kentucky vaccine.” That will take people to a page with more information on the vaccine clinic. The page includes a link to an attestation form that people should fill out prior to their appointment. To make an appointment, call Mercy Health’s hotline at 866-624-0366.
Koster said although Mercy Health-Lourdes hospital is vaccinating people 70 or older this week, it’s difficult to predict the future supply of vaccines.
“After this week, there is no assurances out there whatsoever that Lourdes will receive additional vaccine to continue doing the 70-plus population,” Koster said.
Koster said people 70 or older who are not able to get vaccinated through Lourdes Hospital should fill out the Purchase District Health Department’s online registration form so they can be notified when addition vaccines become available.
“And once they get their name on the list, and we know that vaccine is available somewhere, then we’ll begin to call these individuals and tell them, either we’ll be scheduling them here or we’ll give them information on where else they can schedule,” Koster said.
As for the other members of Phase 1b, school employees, Koster said they do not need to fill out the online registration form. Instead, their districts have been coordinating to get them vaccinated. Koster said Baptist Health Paducah will administer vaccines to employees of McCracken County Public Schools on Friday, while employees of Paducah Public Schools, St. Mary School System, and Community Christian Academy will be vaccinated next week.
“In two weeks time, we will have vaccinated 100% of the school workers in McCracken County, and in Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton,” Koster said.
Koster said the Purchase District Health Department is working with Kentucky Emergency Management to select a site for mass vaccinations, and will know the exact location this week.
According to state predictions, vaccinations of those in Phase 1b may last through spring, while Phase 1c may last through the summer. After that, people 40 or older will be eligible to be inoculated, followed by people ages 16 and older, and children younger than 16 if a vaccine is approved for the age group.