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May 09th, 2021

genesis vaccine podSaints Baseball assistant coach Austin King gets a dose of vaccine at Genesis Family Health’s immunization clinic last week at Seward County Community College. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

In late 2020, vaccines against COVID-19 began to be distributed across the country, and through phases, millions of Americans have now been immunized against COVID-19.

A few more were immunized last Wednesday at a clinic at Seward County Community College. The clinic was put on Genesis Family Health, and GFH Navigator Julie Foster said after a few phases of distribution, vaccine is now available to those 16 and older.

“We’re able to vaccinate the community easier,” she said. “We have more vaccine, so accessibility is easier. We wanted to make sure we crossed off any barriers anybody might have to get vaccinated.”

Foster said information about the vaccine is available in English and Spanish, and this helps people through the immunization process with everything from making an appointment to paperwork.

When planning the SCCC clinic, Foster said she tried to put herself in the shoes of the school’s students themselves.

“They don’t have transportation,” she said. “They don’t have knowledge about community events. How am I going to get vaccinated? Where am I going to start to do that research? We wanted to make sure there were no barriers to get these students vaccinated.”

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Foster said this is where Genesis and SCCC were connected, and she added school officials were immediately open to the clinic and beyond helpful in getting the event started.

“The college was present, making sure we had what we needed,” she said. “We had a little more staff come in and help and make sure people were not waiting. From the time you checked in, somebody gave you directions of how the flow was going to go, walked you through filling out your paperwork and through the nurse. You had help from the time you walked in the door through the time you left. You were not left by yourself wondering what is next.”

With information on hand, Foster said those at the clinic felt safer and more comfortable, something she felt was important.

“It is a scary situation to get vaccinated,” she said. “We understand that, and we don’t want to make people feel even more scared. We had a great turnout. The demand for it has definitely decreased, but our goal is still the same. We’re going to be here to vaccinate those who want and need it.”

The Seward County Health Department has hosted a number of point of distribution, or POD, events through the last few months, and Foster said the health department and GFH work closely together.

“I support their events as much as I support ours,” she said. “We just want to get people vaccinated.”

With Wednesday’s clinic, Foster said everything from the flow to the staff and the quality of care people were provided was excellent.

“It met Genesis’ expectations and beyond,” she said. “We were able to vaccinate less than 30 people, with a large number being students.”

“I think overall, it’s a good starting point,” she said. “We can continue to try.”

With college students being of younger age and being involved with more travel-intensive activities with larger groups of people, Foster stressed the importance of Wednesday’s clinic.

“Their day-to-day socialization is larger than any other adult,” she said.

Previous clinics had focused on businesses and schools in the community, such as USD 480, National Beef and Southwest Medical Center, but Foster said the focus had yet to be on SCCC.

“They are such a large group of people in our community,” she said. “The focus had yet to be on them, and it needed to be.”

Since the vaccines’ inceptions late last year, demand for immunizations has increased, but Foster said it is hard to have walk-ins at a center such as Genesis.

“Once you open up a vial, you have to vaccinate 10 people,” she said. “If I only have one walk-in or one appointment, I have to have a group of nine others to be able to not waste a vial. That’s the last thing we want to do. We don’t want to waste.”

Foster said other states across America are experiencing this same problem.

“We have the vaccine, but we now are facing people being hesitant to getting the vaccine,” she said. “At the beginning of it, our phones would not stop ringing. I could not hire five staff and have enough people answering the phone. We had tons of people who were upset who were not getting their vaccine. It was very difficult to work through the phases of things.”

Foster said the problem now boils down to having available vaccine, but fewer calls at GFH.

“The demand is not there, but we do have them, and we definitely want to vaccinate people,” she said. “I think events like this help because a larger group of people go. They notice events specifically just to get vaccinated.”

Foster said Genesis will likely have more vaccination clinics similar to last Wednesday’s in the future.

“We just have to get creative and meet and see what the next step will be for the next clinic,” she said. “We have to see what group hasn’t been given that focus, where the need is, where we can do it at. There’s a lot of factors that come into planning an event, and the one at the college was planned fairly quickly. The college was also very flexible in what they allowed us to do and what day. I want to give the president of the college a huge ‘thank you’ for allowing us to have the event.”

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