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Plans for the vaccine

Polk County partnering, survey available for those interested 

POLK COUNTY—Polk County health officials have formed a COVID-19 Vaccine Coalition to help provide information about a vaccine and how to deliver it to the community. 

The Polk County Health and Human Services Agency and other community partners, including Polk County Emergency Management, EMS, the sheriff’s office, Blue Ridge Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Foothills Pharmacy, Polk County Schools and White Oak Manor have been monitoring the vaccines for the past several months and have been preparing for its distribution locally. 

“As you have likely heard, the nation is preparing for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Polk County Health and Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy. “The distribution plan for the vaccine has been under development with federal and state partners and manufacturers and has been named Operation Warp Speed (OWS). Over the course of the past several weeks, the Polk County COVID Vaccine Coalition has been meeting to discuss how to best serve our community as we approach the distribution time period. In addition, we recognize that the initial amount of vaccine will be limited. This will require a phased plan that will serve essential workers and high-risk individuals at first, until vaccine production catches up with demand in the weeks and months following the initial vaccine disbursements.” 

Following is part of a press release sent by the county this week regarding the vaccine: 

The Polk County COVID-19 Vaccine Coalition has been planning strategies to assist the community, based on a three-phase plan outlined by OWS, to vaccinate initial populations, starting with those at greatest risk of contracting the virus and those with high-risk medical conditions, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). (Click https://www.cdc.gov/…/need-extra-precautions/index.html… for CDC High Risk Information.) Similar coalitions in communities across the nation are also working to connect with those who work or live in their community, to determine if they are interested in obtaining the vaccine, and helping to determine during which phase they will be eligible for vaccination based on the DHHS definition.

Current plans under discussion by the coalition for phase 1 vaccine distribution in Polk County include vaccination at places of work where medical staff operate and at other points of dispensing for locations without onsite medical personnel. To assist the Polk County Health and Human Services Agency and the COVID-19 Vaccine Coalition in determining the number of individuals in this process for phase 1, and later phases, Polk HHSA is circulating a community survey. This survey is completely voluntary, and is for those who are interested in receiving the vaccine.

The information entered will be securely maintained by the Polk County Health and Human Services Agency and will be used only to help connect individuals with a vaccine location option in the near future. The survey can be accessed at the COVID-19 Updates Section of the Polk County website at http://polknc.org/community_reference_information.php….

“While the community, state and federal partners prepare efforts to distribute vaccine across the nation and here in Polk County, it is important to remember it will take some time to reach everyone with the vaccine,” Kennedy said. “Polk County HHSA has launched its Polk CARES initiative to remind community members to continue wearing face coverings when you are unable to physically distance, wash your hands regularly and stay 6 feet from others. The Polk CARES effort is a reminder that our greatest resource is the people in the community: our guests, our customers and our neighbors. We all have worked too hard to lose focus on these strategies that will help to slow the spread of the virus.”

If you have any questions at this time or any time during the vaccine distribution period, please contact Polk County Health and Human Services Agency via their message line at (828) 722-5086.