A local senior citizen and his daughter met with Marshall County officials Monday to request a process for critically ill senior citizens to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Brian Wassenberg and his daughter, Bryanne, both of Marysville, discussed the stress and struggle they’ve undergone trying to get Wassenberg’s wife, Regina, who has severe pulmonary disease, vaccinated. They addressed the three-member Board of County Commissioners, county health nurse Sue Rhodes and Community Memorial Healthcare public relations director Ashley Kracht.
“What I’m trying to describe for you is the emotional roller coaster for seniors trying to understand where they stand,” Wassenberg said after he and Bryanne explained their inability to get Regina vaccinated in the county or at a Walmart within 200 miles. He asked if there was any way that critically ill people could have their doctor arrange for them to get a vaccine.
Rhodes told the Wassenbergs that as far as immunizing those over 65 in the general public, she did not want to get into choosing between people and deciding who was sicker and needed the vaccine more. Her agency has followed the state health department’s guidance of going by eldest to youngest.
“I can’t make the decision to have doctors make the decision. I have people who have MS, lupus, cancer, kidney transplants, COPD,” Rhodes said.
Kracht asked how they could decide one immune-compromised person is more important than another. She said the health department is working its way down the CMH vaccine hotline list from oldest to youngest and is currently scheduling vaccinations for those who are 79 years old and older.
The county health department gives the shots based on a schedule set up through two local medical facilities, CMH and the Frankfort clinic of the Community Health Care System based at Onaga. CMH receives 100 slots each week so far and schedules the shots based upon a person’s age. The Frankfort clinic has its own set of criteria to schedule 20 shots for their patients, who come to the health department in Marysville for the vaccine. Another 80 shots are given to “critical infrastructure” workers in the Phase 2 of the state’s immunization plan, which includes teachers, grocery store workers, service workers who must go into private homes, and others whose jobs require frequent close contact with the public.
Under Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan, those who are 65 years and older, critical infrastructure workers and those who live in congregate settings are currently eligible for the vaccine.
County Commissioner Fritz Blaske, who is eligible to be vaccinated under Phase Two because he is older than 65, said he was considering passing up his first chance at a vaccine because he considers himself to be healthy and thinks others need it more.
Kracht said health officials are not recommending senior citizens pass up their first chance to be vaccinated but it is a personal decision. She said the vaccine process is going slowly and it is unclear when Blaske would have another chance to be vaccinated.
“We are trying to take care of the people who are most at risk as well as those who are most likely to spread it,” Kracht said.
Rhodes said the county is not getting enough vaccine and had to postpone its vaccinations for this week because doses did not arrive as expected. The health department had been receiving 200 doses per week. She said about 1,000 people in the county had been vaccinated so far and that there are still 1,500 to be vaccinated under Phase 2.
“We are falling behind on the phases,” Rhodes said, noting vaccine shipments did not arrive here last week because of severe cold accompanied by ice and snow at shipment sites. “Phase 3 will include people ages 16 to 64 who have severe medical problems.”
On Feb. 8,
— Met with county public works administrator Mike Craig who presented bids from Hall Brothers, Marysville, for an 1 1/2-inch overlay of 4.8 miles of Indian Road between Axtell and Kansas Highway 99 for $385,997 and an onyx seal for $220,492 of eight miles of 30th Road from U.S. Highway 36 to Vermillion and 3.6 miles of Pheasant Road from K-99 to Winifred. Commissioners approved both bids.