Sam Klomhaus — Enterprise Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
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Park County Health Department Nurse Anna Buckley, right, prepares to administer a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to optometrist Dr. Hanna Barney Wednesday at the health department’s vaccine clinic on Lewis Street. Enterprise photo by Sam Klomhaus

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Livingston School District nurses Holly Sienkiewicz and Sue Harriman were in good spirits Wednesday morning after receiving their first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The pair were the first people to be vaccinated at the Park County Health Department’s new vaccine clinic downtown.

The clinic is open to healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff, group 1A of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

“It was awesome. It was really exciting,” Sienkiewicz said after getting her shot.

“It was almost emotional,” Harriman said.

The Health Department received 200 Moderna vaccine doses Monday, which will be used for group 1A.

Livingston HealthCare received 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week, just over 300 of which have gone to LHC employees and some Emergency Medical Services workers, LHC Vice President of Operations Chris Darnell said Wednesday. LHC Pharmacy Manager Brian Galbreth said there haven’t been any negative reactions to the vaccine reported so far from LHC’s batch.

“With a new medication you always expect to have some glitches,” Galbreth said. “But it’s actually gone exceedingly well.”

LHC will continue to offer the vaccine to its employees for a few days after the new year to make sure they get people who took time off during the holidays, CEO Deb Anczak said, after which point it will prepare for the rest of phase 1A and Phase 1B, which includes some essential workers, some especially high risk groups, people in correctional facilities and people over age 75.

Phase 1B’s rollout depends on the amount of vaccine allocated to Park County, and decisions made at the state and federal levels, Darnell said.

LHC also has to deal with distributing the second dose of the vaccine to those in phase 1A, Darnell said, which happens 28 days after the first dose.

The best part of the vaccine distribution so far has been seeing the reactions from those being vaccinated, Darnell said.

LHC spokeswoman Whitney Moore said she has heard reports of “literal tears of joy” from those receiving the vaccine.

“It’s like the accumulation of all these months,” Moore said.

The reactions of gratitude from those getting the vaccine have been wonderful to see, Darnell said. Community Health Partners received 200 vaccine doses last week, and CHP CEO Lander Cooney said Wednesday those have mostly gone to CHP Staff, and most of those should be finished by the end of the week.

The excess is going to others in group 1A, Cooney said, which includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff.

CHP hasn’t seen any issues so far with the vaccinations, Cooney said, but there has been some flexibility required.

“Like everything with COVID, it’s a learning process,” Cooney said.

The vaccination effort is taking a lot of coordination with the health department and hospital, Cooney said, and CHP will be working with those partners to prepare for the next phase, expected to start Jan. 15 according to the state’s vaccination plan.

“Everyone has been flexible to make (the vaccination effort) happen, which is great,” Cooney said.

Back at the Health Department’s clinic, public health nurse Anna Buckley gave Eyecare Professionals optometrist Dr. Hanna Barney her first dose of the vaccine.

Barney said everyone in her office was very excited when they got the call to be vaccinated.

“I can’t believe we’re here, this is exciting,” Buckley said.

Buckley said so far the health department hasn’t had any issues with the vaccine beyond a little bit of arm soreness, although those being vaccinated are asked to wait at the clinic for 15 minutes after receiving their shot to make sure nothing unexpected happens.

“Life is going to change for the better,” Harriman said as she and Siekiewicz waited around after their shots.

“I’ve never been so excited to get a shot before,” Sienkiewicz said.

“Me either.”