Barton County Commission health director Karen Winkelman discussed booster vaccination against COVID-19 with regard to the opening of the academic year and other matters. Winkelman said that there were changes recorded just the weekend before.

The changes she referred to include the rise of COVID-19 cases among children. To respond to the escalating concern, the health director offered insight on implementing COVID-19 booster shots. 

Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Recommendations on COVID-19 Booster Shots

(Photo: Artem Podrez from Pexels)

Kansas Department of Health and Environment, on the other hand, started tests and vaccinations on local towns. However, the recommendations from health authorities are seemingly avoided by the school officials due to underlying reasons, considering the new beginning of the school year.

The Kansas health department has already given authorization for all COVID-19 vaccine providers to implement booster shots. With that said, the booster shots have been made ready and stored at the department. Most of these booster shots are third vaccine jabs of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Winkelman said in a report by Great Bend Tribune that the booster shots are exclusively available for individuals that already completed the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, the population that received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not have access to the booster shots for now since the pharmaceutical company only has one dose of vaccine.

The health director said that regardless if the person had completed the two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, either one of the booster shots can be selected for the third vaccination.

Winkelman emphasized that if a citizen have questions and clarifications, they should first consult their healthcare provider.

Based on the Barton County report, the Kansas health department has been receiving requests from specialists regarding their immunocompromised patients.

With that said, Winkelman announced that the vaccines will also be made available to the people under transplant, chemotherapy, and other medical patients regardless of the severity of their illness.

The decision, according to Winkelman, will not come from the department but from the patients themselves. The people under treatment will be given an opportunity to self-declare.

If ever the patients will have concerns, the flow of questions will be redirected back again to the medical experts.

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Barton County School Year 2021-2022

Winkelman, along with the county administrator and counselor Phil Hathcock and Patrick Hoffman, recently held a virtual meeting together with the county's school superintendents regarding the rising cases of COVID-19 in children.

According to the Tribune report, Winkelman said that the recommendations served at the said meeting were strictly based on the Kansas health department's COVID-19 guidelines. The following resolutions about the booster shots will still be in the hands of the county's school boards.

The Kansas health department's released COVID-19 recommendations on school openings include social distancing, testing, structured vaccination clinic, and indoor masking for all school bodies such as the students, instructors, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Winkelman highlighted that the state health authority's COVID-19 guidelines over the school year are recommendations and not mandatory.

Along with the report, the county's health director also included in the Barton meeting that there are specific contact people for the schools that could connect in case of a COVID-19 concern.

School bodies are required to reach out to these contact officials if a positive case and exposures to individuals with COVID-19 occur.

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