Northpoint staff gets COVID-19 vaccines through partnership

The Boyle County Health Department asked Ephraim McDowell Health to assist them in providing Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Northpoint Training Center. On Dec. 31 Ephraim McDowell did that, vaccinating more than 60 of Northpoint’s tier 1A associates, according to posts on both Ephraim McDowell Health and Northpoint Training Center Facebook pages.

There is not currently a set date for when to provide inmates with vaccinations because they are not in tier 1 when it comes to receiving the vaccine, said Brent Blevins, public health director for the BCHD.

Blevins said he is grateful for the partnership with Ephraim McDowell. He said they also provided vaccinations at two pharmacies — at Kroger and Walmart — the night of Dec. 31 with some of the vaccinations allocated to BCHD. It was smaller-scale, about 15 vaccinations, but it helped also, he said. The vaccines Ephraim McDowell provided to Northpoint staff were also from the BCHD’s supply and used at Blevins’ request. Blevins said from his understanding, the BCHD received the Moderna vaccine because it is easier to store and transport than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, there are limitations to the Moderna vaccine — for example, once the first dose is drawn out of a vial, there are only six hours left to use the remaining dosages from the vial.

“I’m extremely grateful that Ephraim McDowell stepped up to help us with vaccinating in the community, including Northpoint,” Blevins said. “It’s just a tremendous community partnership for us, and I am so pleased that they did this.”

Ephraim McDowell and BCHD combined have now provided about 110 vaccinations to Northpoint staff, Blevins said. The Northpoint staff members BCHD vaccinated were vaccinated at Woodlawn Elementary School. Blevin hopes Northpoint receiving the vaccine will be helpful for the future to keep appropriate staff numbers and alleviate some of the pressure on staff when it comes to positive cases in both inmates and staff, and it will also hopefully mean fewer positive cases of COVID-19 going forward.

“It’s just a good thing for them with the number of cases they’ve had in the last couple of months to get them headed in the right direction,” Blevins said.

According to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Corrections website, as of Dec. 30, there are 28 active staff cases of COVID-19 at Northpoint, one staff member has died after testing positive for COVID-19, which the Advocate-Messenger has previously reported was David Ragle — and there are 522 active inmate cases of COVID-19. There have been zero inmate deaths. Blevins said when it comes to people with active cases, the course of action is to wait until they have passed their quarantine window and are no longer symptomatic before they receive a vaccine. This applies not just to Northpoint but to all active cases, he said.

In the coming weeks, Blevins said the BCHD will be working to provide vaccinations at remaining doctor’s offices, dentist offices, veterinary clinics, and agencies that address behavioral health and counseling. Then, as laid out by Gov. Andy Beshear, the BCHD will hopefully be able to work on providing vaccines for people 70 years old and older, Blevins said. It will take several weeks to get to that point, he said, but it’s an anticipated step in vaccine distribution.

In a Facebook post on the BCHD page Blevins shared Jan. 1, he encouraged community leaders to refer people to the Centers for Disease Control and Team Kentucky websites for COVID-19 vaccination information. Even in the places where BCHD has provided vaccines, there have been a lot of people who have not taken the vaccine, he said, so he believes it’s important people know about information available to make an educated decision.

In the Facebook post, he shared that to date BCHD has given more than 300 shots to more than 33 agencies or people. This has included first responders, people in medical, dental, and vision offices, nurses and doctors, home care agencies, and people at the Boyle County Detention Center and Northpoint.