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COVID vaccines to arrive in Pettis County this week

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Pettis County citizens who preregistered for the COVID-19 vaccine may be getting a call in the next few days for an appointment as the Pettis County Health Center announced it is getting a shipment of vaccines this week.

Phase 1A includes health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities. Gov. Mike Parson recently announced the state is moving into Phase 1B Tier 1 and Tier 2. This group includes first responders, emergency services personnel, emergency management, public works, and other essential workers who help maintain the community. Tier 2 includes anyone 65 and older and adults between 18 and 64 with the following health conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down’s Syndrome, heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies, immunocompromised state, severe obesity (BMI over 40) pregnancy, sickle cell disease or diabetes. 

“The way the vaccine is working, it’s a very immediate distribution — you find out Sunday you’re going to get vaccine Tuesday and so we’ve not wanted to schedule appointments until we had a confirmed statement we were going to get vaccine,” Health Center Administrator JoAnn Martin told the Democrat on Monday. “That’s why it’s feeling like hurry, hurry, hurry. We want to get vaccine to people as quickly as we can, obviously it doesn’t do any good sitting in our freezers.”

According to Martin, the Health Center is receiving the Pfizer vaccine, which comes in allocations of 975 doses. She said the Health Center will be getting multiple allocations this week but she isn’t 100% sure what the exact number will turn out to be.

“Right now it’s appearing like we will hopefully have enough vaccine for the majority of people who preregistered. We’re not having to make those determinations of who’s sicker than whom, who’s at higher risk,” Martin said. “That is a blessing that it appears that we are going to receive enough for the folks who are preregistered. That’s not everyone who fit those categories or wants the vaccine, but at least it’s a start. We know the folks who want the vaccine right away and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

According to a news release, the Health Center is working with Bothwell Regional Health Center, Katy Trail Community Health, AFC Urgent Care and Woods Pharmacy to begin the vaccination process by appointment only. Appointments are being scheduled for those who preregistered. 

The release notes that citizens may be scheduled to receive their vaccine in a different location than where they indicated on their preregistration. When preregistration forms are received, they will be distributed to the organization that will schedule the appointment based on vaccine availability.

“Right now we are trying to look at where people get their regular health care and where they might have a relationship. We are trying to get people going where they’re comfortable,” Martin explained. “Bothwell has graciously agreed to do most of the vaccine scheduling for us because they have the system that is more efficient than ours. Most people are going to be getting a phone call from Bothwell.”

Those receiving a two-dose vaccine will make an appointment for the second dose at the time you receive their first dose.

Martin asked people who preregistered to not call any of the entities asking when their appointment is, and instead, they should wait for a phone call in the coming days. She also noted the phone number may be unknown to the recipient, so people should answer their phone and respond to any voicemails from those entities “so you don’t miss your opportunity for getting a vaccine.”

Citizens must complete a preregistration form available online at www.pettiscountyhealthcenter.com or www.brhc.org or in person at the Health Center. Online forms should be emailed to pettisvaccine@gmail.com. Paper forms should be returned to the Health Center by faxing to 660-827-1141, mailing to 911 E. 16th St., or dropping off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. For those without access to email or a paper form, people can call the Health Center at 660-827-1130 to register. Residents are asked to be patient as there are limited phone lines available as employees continue to do contact tracing.

Due to the amount of paperwork employees are dealing with, Martin asked citizens to wait to preregister until closer to their eligible tier. The state moves through phases and tiers as a group, and the next group will be announced by Parson.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience, we are moving as quickly as we can,” Martin said. “The limitations have been the release of vaccine and it is being manufactured as fast as it can be by our understanding. People want to be vaccinated, they want that protection and are worried about if they contract the virus and we completely understand that so we’re working our very best to get people vaccinated.”

Despite the slow increase of vaccinated citizens, Martin said it is important for people to continue exercising caution when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s going to take us a while to reach that level of vaccination where we can take our masks off and go back to what feels like more normal life,” she said. “Even though people are being vaccinated they still need to continue with mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. Though it is the light at the end of the tunnel. We are starting to see a better picture moving forward than we had before with vaccines more readily available.”

Information about the statewide vaccination program is available at www.MOStopsCOVID.com.

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