Springfield health leaders try to prepare for next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 9:31 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield health leaders are trying to prepare to distribute the next round of COVID-19 vaccines, but as they plan, they are relying on the state.

So far, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has given COVID-19 vaccines to 1,000 healthcare workers and is expecting to vaccinate 2,000 more in the next week. That’s not including employees at Cox, Mercy or long-term care facilities. The next phase includes first responders and essential workers, but there is no plan yet on when or how that will play out.

“It gives you a sense of hope that they did not have before,” said Steve Edwards, CoxHealth President and CEO.

Edwards said, so far, the hospital has given more than 6,500 employees the COVID-19 vaccine. It only has about 150 shots left.

“Every second typically saves lives in healthcare and this is a vaccine, so every arm it gets in is a life it could save,” he said.

Across the country, healthcare workers were the first priority for vaccines. Springfield-Greene County Health Director Clay Goddard said, now it’s onto the next phase.

“We’re trying to get our arms around what it looks like to vaccinate all first responders in the community and all essential worker groups in the community,” Goddard said.

Edwards said the CDC has recommendations for who should be vaccinated first, but each state can set its own priority list.

“We knew this was coming. There’s no reason a plan shouldn’t have been finalized in October as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Edwards said local hospitals have the infrastructure to vaccinate a lot of people, fast.

“So the sooner we know the plans, the sooner we can organize our vaccination response at Cox. We’re presuming steps to plan right now, so we’re sort of planning without knowing the state’s distribution. So as soon as we hear it we can move more quickly,” Edwards said.

Goddard said, at this point, there’s not even any certainty on when the next phase of vaccinations will start.

“The reality is, many of us are going to have to wait a while longer to get the vaccine. It can’t be overstated that in the interim, we can’t afford to let our guard down,” Goddard said.

Edwards hopes Missouri does not over-complicate the process.

“What matters is that we get vaccines in arms because ultimately, the goal is to reach herd immunity and get through this,” he said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was not available for an interview Tuesday. A spokesperson said the department is planning a briefing for Friday afternoon to outline vaccine plans moving forward.

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