OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Officials with Owensboro Health announced scheduling new COVID-19 vaccination appointments is now on hold until the vaccine allocation from the state goes up.
This comes as residents in the Tri-State worry there will not be enough vaccine to get their first, or even second, dose.
Officials with Owensboro Health say for patients who already have an appointment or those ready for a second dose of a vaccine, those doses are already accounted for. Those patients should not worry about their appointments being canceled.
This moratorium on scheduling new appointments is actually an effort to get more shots into arms quicker. Officials say that’s because if the state does increase their allotment, officials would prefer to schedule more appointments in the coming weeks, rather than letting people book appointments months down the road.
Currently, Owensboro Health is booked until March, according to officials.
“Vaccinations save lives, not vaccines, as they say,” says Owensboro Regional Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Kelley, “so we have to get them into people. We are getting 95% of what we get off the shelf within 7 days and into people.”
Dr. Michael Kelley says they decided to temporarily pause new appointments to ensure every last dose of incoming shipments is used.
“Some of this was we’ve already got a lot of people scheduled,” says Dr. Kelley, “we know how much vaccine we’re getting, and we would like to be able to open more visits. We are going to work towards trying to do that, but right now, we wanted to kind of pump the breaks.”
Owensboro Health is receiving vaccine shipments weekly, according to Dr. Kelley. He says nearly 2,000 doses are expected in the next two weeks, with 975 doses arriving each week in February.
Dr. Kelley also praises the community for being so eager to get the vaccine, especially Kentuckians 70 years and older.
“That group has been through things like the polio vaccine and other things,” says Dr. Kelley. “They have really lined up and been people who really wanted this, more than a lot of other people. 75% of deaths are in the over 70 age group, so when we really think about vaccinating the right group of people, that age group is a really fantastic place to start to try to really help.”
Over at Baptist Health in Madisonville, officials say right now, their patients are also accounted for.
They say their vaccine clinic is administering 1,000 vaccines per week, as appointments there are scheduled as shipments are confirmed. That way, no doses are wasted, and no appointments need to be canceled.
“The availability of appointments is updated frequently,” says Kristy Quinn with Baptist Health, “so if they log in and no appointments are available, we encourage them to check back often. We are following the tiers as identified by the Governor, so we are currently on tier 1A and 1B.”
At Deaconess Health System, Pharmacy Service Line Manager Brian Spencer says there is a “second dose guarantee” for current patients in both Kentucky and Indiana.
This was welcomed news for Robert John of Vanderburgh County after he and his wife got their first dose of a vaccine last week.
“Well, we are in our 70′s,” says John. “We both have some underlying health conditions, and we believe the science.”
The John’s are scheduled to get their second dose on February 5th, but they worried the supply would be too short.
“We thought, ‘oh my gosh,’” says John, “that’ll be great - get the first dose, and then not be able to get the second.”
Officials at Deaconess confirming, however, the state of Indiana has continued to supply the health system with sufficient vaccines for the coming weeks, with more shipments arriving weekly at each location.
John hopes this vaccine will provide a sense of security for his family.
“We’ll be able to maybe start going to the grocery stores ourselves wearing the mask,” says John. “Things like that - just simple, little things that we all take for granted. We haven’t even allowed the kids to come into the house. They’ll get something for us, and just drop it off in the garage or at the back door, but we haven’t even allowed them to come in.”
Spencer says in Indiana, he is confident that anyone who schedules a vaccine appointment in the coming weeks will receive a vaccine as scheduled.
Meanwhile, over at Ascension Saint Vincent - officials tell us they work closely with the state to monitor allocation projections, releasing this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“Ascension St. Vincent continues to partner and work closely with the ISDH to schedule vaccinations. When community members come to our clinics to receive their first dose, they are prompted to schedule their second appointment. Ascension St. Vincent has allocation projections from the state and continues to closely monitor supply and the schedule, to ensure second doses can be administered.”