As the anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas approaches, more and more people around the state are being vaccinated against the virus. COVID-19 has touched everyone’s lives and shaken up both communities and the economy, keeping people indoors and requiring people to take safety precautions to avoid infection.

But now the population is fighting back.

Geary County continued its efforts to inoculate the community with a vaccination clinic at the C.L. Hoover Opera House Saturday morning where about 300 people received their first round of the COVID-19 shot. The people vaccinated at Saturday’s event will return for their second shots in about 28 days. In two weeks, the first people vaccinated at the opera house will return for their second round of the shot.

The Geary County Health Department is still working to inoculate people included in the second phase.

Head of Geary County Emergency Management Garry Berges said the county’s efforts to vaccinate the population have gone well so far.

“So far, even with the cold temperatures, the extreme temperature change, we still got the people coming in,” he said. “They were not afraid of getting out in the cold and so that’s good to know. And we haven’t had any problems today so far.”

Though more than 1,000 community members have received their vaccinations, Berges said, no one has had a negative reaction to the shot so far. The county has medical professionals on standby in the event that someone does have a bad reaction, however.

“Should we have somebody that does have a reaction, one way or another, we are ready to take care of that problem,” Berges said.

The health department’s allowance of vaccines from the state will be increased from 300 to 500 this week, so the county will continue to vaccinate community members in the near future.

In addition to the health department, local pharmacies have begun to receive doses of the vaccine.

“We’re starting to get a lot more coming in to the state and it filters down into Geary County,” Berges said.

Despite this progress, he said it will still take time before everyone who wants one is able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m not even going to take a guess because some people don’t want it initially and they want to see how other people are reacting,” Berges said. “Until we know how many we’re going to get in each week, it’s kind of hard to determine how long it’s going to take. You listen to the national news and they think by summertime everybody that wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated. So hopefully it doesn’t take that long, but you never know.”

Berges said it’s people’s right to refuse the vaccine if they wish, but hopes people will consider it.

“That’s their right to do it,” he said. “Getting the vaccine not only protects yourself but protects other people. We just recommend that everybody goes and gets the vaccine when it’s their time to get it done.”

Geary Community Hospital CEO Frank Corcoran stopped by the clinic Saturday.

He said he believed progress was being made.

“It’s going great,” he said.

Corcoran said he was happy to see different community entities come together to make the clinics happen. A wide variety of community members, from GCH staff to community volunteers to county entities, EMS and law enforcement, helped out at the clinic.

“Everybody’s working together,” Corcoran said. “I think it’s a really strong community effort.”

Roughly 2,000 community members have been vaccinated as of a Friday update provided by emergency management.

As of Friday morning, a total of 1,889 people had received their COVID-19 vaccine in Geary County, including those offered through the health department, GCH, Konza Prairie Community Health Center, Brookdale Junction City, and Valley View Senior Life.

Of these, 788 have received their second and final vaccine. All of these individuals were vaccinated as part of the first or second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Additional vaccination sites are expected to be added as the county continues receiving more doses of the vaccine each week.

At this time, the county is still in the second phase of vaccinations, which includes people older than the age of 65, school employees, firefighters and law enforcement.

People are encouraged to sign up for their vaccines on the county website at www.gearycounty.org or by contacting the health department at 785-762-5788. People who sign up for vaccines will be put on a list and contacted when it is their time to receive a vaccine.

People are asked to be patient as the county waits for more doses of the vaccines.

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