COVID-19 vaccine

Registered nurse Deb Hedke, Community Memorial Healthcare director of infection prevention and employee health nurse, gives a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday to Erin Rombeck, a licensed practical nurse.

Marshall County residents are welcome to call the Vaccine Readiness Hotline at Community Memorial Healthcare to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when they become available.

The number is 785-562-4474.

The hotline is a voicemail inbox system that is checked by a qualified staff person, and recorded into a database, according to a CMH news release.

People who call will be asked to leave their name, date of birth, phone number and a primary care physician to be included on the list.

As of Tuesday, 650 names were on the list, said CMH marketing director Ashley Kracht.

“The interest in signing up to be on the vaccine list has been so positive,” Kracht said. “We are thrilled so many people are ready to be proactive and get to this next stage in our fight against COVID in our communities.

A specific date or timeline is not yet known for when vaccine shipments will be available for the general public, Kracht said.

Paula Winkler, CMH director of pharmacy, said CMH will follow Kansas’ vaccine priority phase guidelines as released by the state last week.  

“With that, we are at the mercy of the state and federal government for distribution of those vaccines,” she said. “From what I understand from our call last week, while one county may be ready to move into the next phase, no additional doses will be given to that area until all areas of the state have received the doses needed to fulfill the criteria of each phase. So the whole state will be progressing through the phases together.”

CMH also does not know how the public distribution of vaccines will be handled following the completion of the Phase 1 portion of the plan to inoculate health care workers and the most vulnerable groups (nursing homes) first. The CMH vaccination coordinators are working closely with the Marshall County Health Department, as vaccines may be distributed through public health instead of through a health care system setting.

With the hotline, CMH is trying to be as prepared as possible for when vaccines come to this area, Winkler said.

“This hotline helps us to gauge the level of interest and to make a more educated guess on numbers for each phase, so that we can ensure that no vaccines go to waste.”

Winkler said there is definitely a timeline involved once a vial of vaccine is prepared, “so we have to be sure to have a plan in place to use those doses in a time-appropriate manner to be able to utilize all vaccine, and eliminate any waste.”

Adding a name to the Vaccine Readiness Hotline database does not guarantee a vaccine, the news release said. It simply states the caller’s interest in being contacted when they become available. Vaccines will not be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis when they become available but by the priority level given to each patient through the plan for the state of Kansas.