Springfield health leaders, infectious disease experts discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 2:58 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 9:31 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Health leaders and doctors announced plans Thursday afternoon for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Springfield area.

CoxHealth infectious disease physician Dr. Robin Trotman, Mercy Springfield infectious disease physician Dr. William Sistrunk and Springfield-Greene County Health Department director Clay Goddard all spoke on the Springfield area’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.

“We’re in the middle of a very serious epidemic, and the vaccine is a tool to help fight the virus,” said Dr. William Sistrunk.

According to the health department, frontline healthcare workers and long-term care staff and among the first individuals who will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Sistrunk says vaccinating of Mercy’s frontline workers could possibly begin next week, but an exact timeline for vaccine distribution is currently unknown.

“We officially have all of our co-workers assigned, according to their risk. Our plan is to get as many of our co-workers vaccinated as we can.”

Mercy and CoxHealth are both expecting mRNA vaccines, while Mercy is also expecting some deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine. In a clinical trial, the mRNA-1273 vaccine demonstrated an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent in preventing COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Trotman with CoxHealth says this is probably the first ray of light people have seen throughout the pandemic, showing confidence in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

“You look at the efficacy of this vaccine, and it prevents hospitalizations,” said Dr. Trotman. “What I hope to see is that our workforce is stronger and more capable to handle more patients.”

“We know enough safety data. We know enough efficacy data, and we have a trajectory for this disease that’s not good. COVID-19 isn’t going to go away without a massive intervention. This is going to help prevent severe disease, deaths and hospitalizations—that’s our goal.”

Dr. Sistrunk showed confidence in the vaccine as well, but says the Springfield community will need to remain vigilant for a little while longer.

“We’re going to start working toward the end of this, with this vaccine. The vaccine is not the end. You still have to use our other prevention measures for a while. It’s the effort of all of us working together that’s really going to end this,” Sistrunk said.

The vaccine will first roll out as a two-dose vaccine. SGCHD director Clay Goddard and other local health leaders say they feel confident recommending it to the community.

“If they tell me it is safe, I believe them. I will recommend it to my mother, to my spouse, I’ll take it myself... Let’s listen to our local experts, we’re here to take care of our community, and we all take this very, very seriously,” said Goddard.

The health department also announced the COVID-19 #FinishStrongSGF Pledge, which includes a form for locals to pledge to watch their distance, wash their hands, wear a mask and get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

In addition to the pledge, Goddard is urging caution.

“It’s an exciting day that is a turning point on a long, hard year, but we owe it to one another to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this illness, especially for those most vulnerable,” said Goddard.

Greene County has reported 16,895 cases since the pandemic began. More than 4,700 cases remain active, and the county reports 200 hospitalizations as of Thursday.

CLICK HERE for COVID-19 vaccine information from the county.


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