First COVID-19 vaccine for 650 people scheduled at Gordmans this week

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
Fort Hays State University professor Leo Herrman, of La Crosse, gets vaccinated Tuesday afternoon by Patty Larson, a registered nurse at HaysMed, at the former Gordmans retail store in Big Creek Crossing mall.
Fort Hays State University custodian Frank Mindrup, of Hays, receives COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday afternoon from Holly Bittel, a registered nurse at HaysMed, at the former Gordmans retail store in Big Creek Crossing mall.
Fort Hays State University police officer Jonathan Rupp, of Hays, registers to get vaccinated Tuesday afternoon at the former Gordmans retail store in Big Creek Crossing mall.
Janie Tholen, right, of Hays, registers Fort Hays State University professor Leo Herrman, left, of La Crosse, to get vaccinated Tuesday afternoon at the former Gordmans retail store in Big Creek Crossing mall.

COVID-19 vaccines for members of the public in Phase 2 began Tuesday afternoon by appointment in the former Gordmans retail space at Big Creek Crossing mall, with 350 more doses than expected available.

A total of 800 doses were being administered this week, said Jason Kennedy, health services director for Ellis County.

That’s 300 from the state that arrived early last week, another 300 that arrived Friday afternoon, 50 extra from First Care Clinic, and 150 second doses for those who already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by First Care.

“We really wanted to test the system,” said Kennedy, of the new setup in Gordmans on Tuesday.

About 25-30 volunteers were helping throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, and planned for Thursday as well as shots continue. The lucky 650 getting their first vaccine enter the store and then stop at four different stations: two for registration, one for the shot and a fourth for 15 minutes of observation afterward.

Those getting shots this week are in Phase 2 of Gov. Laura Kelly’s COVID-19 vaccination process. In Ellis County, that is people who can answer yes to two of three criteria: over 65, working in a critical infrastructure job or living in a group home.

“We’ll be in Phase 2 forever,” Kennedy said Tuesday, as he’s previously noted there are probably thousands of people who qualify in Ellis County.

On Tuesday afternoon the process in Gordmans was going smoothly, Kennedy said.

“It’s easy, we have a lot of space," he said, "and people aren’t bunched together."

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is notifying the counties each Wednesday of how much vaccine they will receive. Vaccine is shipped directly to the counties on Monday or Tuesday the following week.

Appointments are made for those who have signed up through a portal on the Ellis County Health Department website. A registration and consent form is also available there.

People who have signed up should be on the lookout for a notification they have an appointment.

“They’ll get an email or text from First Care Clinic,” Kennedy said. “This is not spam, it is not junk mail. It is your confirmation of scheduling.”

The public can also register with help from the Hays Public Library, which is partnering with the Ellis County Health Department as a registration resource.

The library announced Wednesday that the library has public computers, WiFi and staff available to assist anyone who needs help signing up for the vaccine.

"Patrons also are welcome to call the library, 785-625-9014, for help with this process," the announcement said. "For those in Hays without computer access who are not able to go to the library, accommodations may be made through the HPL delivery service. Call for more information."

The announcement said library staff also will assist residents outside Ellis County navigate their county’s process.