Count them among the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic — students from Maysville Community and Technical College who are volunteering to help the local health department administer vaccines.
“I felt very hopeful seeing this group walk into BTDHD with their white lab jackets. The vaccine itself has meant hope to a lot of us health officials,” Buffalo trace District Health Department spokesperson Samantha Wilson said. “I had heard from several of the students’ professors that the nursing program is eager and ready to start helping out with COVID-19 vaccinations.”
When vaccinations will be more widely available is still up in the air, Wilson said.
“Mason County is still in tier 1A (health care workers.) Robertson County is in tier 1B (First Responders, K-12 Schools, and 70+ age group) but has not received any more vaccines since the first allotment,” she said.
But once more vaccine is received and ready for distribution, the students will be ready to offer their help, Wilson said.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity (we hope) for the students to serve their community during a pandemic,” Wilson said. “Operations like this are exactly what they have been trained for. We have some of the best and brightest helping us give vaccinations. I trust them completely to be able to get this job done. The volunteers have to go through a lengthy credentialing process in addition to being vouched for by their professors. “
Dr. Rhonda Sims, an RN professor with MCTC, has been taking the lead in helping organize the volunteers, Wilson said.
“She really goes out of the way for her pupils seeking opportunities for them to learn and get hands-on experiences,” Wilson said. “For example, the students have been able to teach health education in Amish schools. The topics they teach range from hand washing techniques to farm and equine safety.”
BTDHD is also ready to begin administering vaccines once they are received, Wilson said.
“We have everything in place to give them as soon as we get them. In addition to the health department and hospital, many of our medical providers in Mason County are ready and on standby to give vaccinations as well,” she said.
Wilson said some are medical providers have been active in advocating for the vaccine via social media and community organizations have been supportive by offering their facilities for future immunization clinics, including Tom Browning Boys and Girls Club, city of Maysville, The Maysville Players, and the Maysville Event Center.
“We are so grateful to our community partners. It is because of them we have the ‘who, what, where, and why,’” Wilson said. That leaves the “when” as the unanswered question, she said.
Allotments from the state Department for Public Health have been meager and slow, Wilson said.
”We do not know how many vaccines we will get or when we will get them until the day they’re delivered. But to be clear, we cannot point fingers at the state-level for issues with vaccine availability as this problem is occurring nationwide. DPH has been facing its own challenges with receiving less vaccine than they were promised by the federal government since day one of “Operation Warp Speed,’” she said.
Those interested in knowing when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available for their assigned tier are invited to sign up for notification on the Buffalo Trace District Health Department’s website at http://www.buffalotracehealth.com/.
The department is reminding residents that this is not a registration for the COVID-19 vaccination but only a notification of availability.
Every dose of vaccine allocated to BTDHD will be administered, Wilson said.
“But we can assure everyone no vaccine will be wasted in our counties and we will give as soon as we get,” she said.
Once vaccines are available, individuals can call the health department to make an appointment for their first dose, Wilson said.
”Until then, we ask that folks remain patient,” she said.