OH expanding vaccinations to senior citizens

Lynda Trogden receives the first round of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccination for tier 1B individuals by pharmacist student Morgan Cecil on Jan. 8 afternoon at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

Owensboro Health has begun scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for tier 1B individuals, which includes senior citizens.

According to Dr. Michael Kelley, vice president of medical affairs, tier 1B includes first responders, teachers and those 70 and older. However, he said, the state will be handling the vaccinations for people in education systems.

“With the resources and expertise available to us, Owensboro Health is more than ready to take the next step — vaccinating some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francis DuFrayne in a press release.

OH did a soft launch of tier 1B individuals on Thursday, according to Kelley. He said he estimates between 730 to 800 doses were administered throughout the day.

“A big number, which is great,” he said. “And of that, I would say probably 80-plus% were probably over 70-year-olds.”

Kelley said OH has received 6,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine so far and has distributed approximately 3,000 doses, leaving the system with from 2,500 to 3,000 doses left to administer until it receives more.

OH is still in the process of administering vaccinations to tier 1A individuals, which includes critical care health care workers, Kelley said. OH has also branched out to include those critical health care workers outside of its healthcare system, he said..

The vaccination is expected to take 30-45 minutes. Seniors should plan to bring proof of age and insurance information, although, according to the press release, they will not be billed for vaccinations.

OH announced Thursday that its phone systems were overwhelmed by the influx of requests for appointments. Kelley asked for those trying to make an appointment to “bear with us.”

Those wanting to schedule a vaccination can do so by calling 270-685-7100, scheduling an appointment online via MyChart for current patients or by going online to OwensboroHealth.org and clicking on the COVID-19 vaccine clinic link.

Kelley said appointment times are being scheduled quickly with about 700 appointments made in just a 30-minute period, booking up a full two days’ worth of appointments.

Walk-in appointments are currently only available for health care workers, he said.

He said OH is scheduling about 360 vaccines per day, but that could be expanded.

Kelley said OH is doing everything it can to “get to some sense of normal in the future and doing that is a big thing here, it’s a big thing across the country. It takes a lot of people, a lot of moving parts and we’re doing everything we can to get it done.”

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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