JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNT) – Nearly 500 people received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at Junction City High School, with many of them having to travel significantly less than they would have without the local vaccination opportunity.
This includes Larry Bluthardt of Clay Center.
“I have had bronchial asthma my whole life and it developed into COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and other breathing issues with my lungs I’ve been treating for the last year or two pretty heavily,” Bluthardt said.
When the coronavirus vaccine became available, Bluthardt knew it was the right step to take. However, living in a smaller town made scheduling to receive it all the more difficult.
“The other alternative that I was given was to drive to Stormont Vail in Topeka,” Bluthardt said. “I thought, ‘Good Lord, isn’t there any one closer?’ and they said, ‘You’re in luck.'”
That he was, because the State of Kansas called on nearby Hy-Vee stores to provide a mass vaccination clinic to people in Geary County and the surrounding areas. Allowing Bluthardt to travel just 34 miles, compared to the 94 he would need to travel to Topeka.
“It’s open up to Phase 1 and Phase 2 individuals, which is people 65 or older, educators, essential workers or anybody who works in a high-contact capacity,” said Kyle Odem, the Store Director of Manhattan’s Hy-Vee.
The Hy-Vee pharmacy staff administered the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Having that opportunity to serve this community that… has a lot of smaller areas around us, it just means a lot to be able to reach out and take care of them,” Odem said.
Thus proving that Kansans not only take care of one another, but remain strong in difficult times.
“Let’s get it over with and get rid of this COVID disease and fight another day,” Bluthardt said.
Hy-Vee staff will return to Junction City in three weeks to provide the second dose of the vaccine to the people who received their first dose on Saturday.