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Vaccination efforts moving right along at Heritage Health

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | February 23, 2021 8:12 AM

KELLOGG — The COVID-19 vaccination efforts at Heritage Health’s Kellogg office are successfully progressing as they continue to offer their drive-through-style vaccine service.

The News-Press was able to speak to clinical director Lynn Haughn and Heritage Health CEO Mike Baker to hear what their thoughts were from an insider’s perspective.

“It’s going really well,” Haughn said. “We’ve received lots of comments from patients who are happy with how organized we are and how much they appreciate us being here. Our staff has been fantastic, we work through the little quirks as we go.”

For Baker, seeing his staff work as hard as they have in getting this vaccine out to people has been remarkable — which probably relates to his optimism surrounding the current status of the pandemic itself.

“It’s just exciting that we’re able to have a tool to make an impact on this situation,” Baker said. “For so long it was just us telling people to isolate, mask up, wash their hands, and it never really felt like there was an end in sight, but now we’re in a spot where we have the vaccine and this is the tool that is going to get us back to that normal state. It’s just so exciting to be able to actually do something.”

Baker discussed that at this point the only real hurdle for Heritage Health and all of the other local medical and health groups is having a steady supply of doses.

The goal is to make sure that doses aren’t simply sitting on shelves, but are actually getting into the arms of the locals in order to hit the Center for Disease Control’s herd immunity threshold, which is scaled at being between 70 and 90 percent.

“We’re really focused on working through the priority groups,” Baker said. “As soon as we can report back to our public health officials that we’ve worked through a specific group in our region, we can move onto the next priority group. If it’s your turn, let’s get you in line.”

“We haven’t had any problems finding people who want to be vaccinated,” Haughn followed up with.

As of Friday afternoon, Heritage Health reported that they had administered nearly 500 doses of the vaccine to Shoshone County residents, but anyone with a curiosity for the total amount of doses that have been given throughout the Panhandle Region, according to public.tableau.com, nearly 40,000 total doses have been administered.

Dr. Peter Purrington, the Chief Clinical Officer for Heritage Health, told Baker that he believes this vaccine is among the cleanest he’s ever seen, which should potentially put some minds at ease for those who have doubted that vaccine’s safety.

“The developers of the vaccine had to put forth compelling scientific evidence to support their vaccine,” Baker said. “Dr. Purrington said it’s probably the cleanest vaccine he’s ever seen, in that there’s not a lot of other junk in it — it’s super clean with very minimal ingredients and he thinks it is super awesome.”

Baker wants to let everyone know that you don’t have to be a patient of Heritage Health in order to get the vaccine through them, and recommends that folks watch the social media pages of their local health groups so they know when it is their turn to get vaccinated.

Once a person’s priority group is announced, they can visit myheritagehealth.org to register and get on the waiting list for the vaccine.