As students returned to school Monday, local educators lined up at The Medical Center at Bowling Green to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton and Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Gary Fields received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Fields, who said he received the Pfizer vaccine, said the experience was as simple as getting a flu shot. At The Medical Center, where school employees received the vaccine by appointment only, Fields compared the mood there to being liberated from a siege.
“It was surreal,” Fields said, adding that the late Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, who lost her life to the disease, was on his mind.
On Monday, The Medical Center gave those who received the vaccine commemorative bookmarks honoring Shadowen. The memento included a quote from Shadowen in May before her health worsened.
“You are my heroes, friends, colleagues, and family,” Shadowen wrote at the time. “I hope soon to be free again!”
Shadowen died Sept. 11. She was 62 years old.
“I encourage people to get the vaccine,” Fields told the Daily News, adding that it will hasten the return to some sense of normalcy. “I would hope that everybody will join together and make that possible.”
Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced 2,085 new COVID-19 cases, including 21 additional deaths. The state’s positivity rate is now at 12.35%.
Locally, the Barren River District Health Department has announced 21,323 cases since the pandemic started, 17,816 of which have recovered. The department said its eight-county region has 227 deaths reported from COVID-19.
The breakdown of recovered/deaths/total cases by county is Barren: 2,454, 35, 2,878; Butler: 770, 16, 958; Edmonson: 538, 13, 648; Hart: 1,094, 11, 1,350; Logan: 1,599, 40, 1,899; Metcalfe: 552, 10, 653; Simpson: 1,108, 14, 1,338; and Warren: 9,701, 88, 11,599.
In Allen County, the local health department wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin vaccinating residents 70 years old and older and above Wednesday.
Those who fit that criteria should call the Allen County Health Department (270-239-7378) to make an appointment. Patients should bring a driver’s license or other proof of address to receive the vaccine.
“Once the vaccine is available, the health department will contact the resident to schedule an appointment,” the department wrote in the post.
The Warren County and Bowling Green school districts returned to the hybrid schedules they used before closing for a second time last month.
“You could tell that they were excited to see their teachers and their friends,” Fields said of his experience welcoming middle and high school students back for in-person classes Monday.
Between WCPS and BGISD, nearly 2,000 employees have signed up to get initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine, district representatives said.
“I think it’ll bring some peace of mind to our staff for sure,” Fields said.
Even as it continues vaccinating health care workers, Med Center Health is now authorized to begin vaccinating first responders, K-12 school personnel and anyone 70 or older.
Those who match that criteria can text the word “SENIOR” to 270-796-3200 or send an email to vaccine @mchealth.net with the individual’s full name, date of birth and phone number.
The vaccines are available by appointment only, and Med Center Health requests the public to refrain from calling its hospital lines to get on the appointment waiting list.
Melinda Joyce, Med Center Health vice president of corporate support services, said in a statement that applicants will get a notification of their vaccination appointment but asked for patience. Those who’ve made appointments must also keep them, Joyce said, since the vaccine is only viable for a few hours after it’s removed from storage.
“Med Center Health is using all vaccines it receives and has not – and will not – waste a drop of what is received.”
The bulk of Med Center Health’s vaccine doses are from Pfizer, Joyce said.
“We are continuing to schedule individuals from the 1A and 1B phases, concentrating on health care workers, first responders, and school personnel in Warren and Simpson counties. We will also be adding some individuals 70 and older as the schedules permit. We are planning to offer clinics daily for this week and continue to evaluate,” she said.
Like other hospitals across the state administering the vaccine, The Medical Center does not know how many doses of the vaccine it will receive each week, Joyce wrote. Clinic availability depends on how many quantities of the vaccine the hospital has at one time, she wrote.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.