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SGF-Greene Co. Health Director says we are on the “tail end” of Omicron surge

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:09 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:31 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is closing its mass vaccination clinic on Battlefield Road.

Is that a sign that the worst of the Omicron surge is behind us?

“I think we’re on the tail end,” answered Katie Towns, the Springfield-Greene County Health Director. “But I think we have to be cautious because prior to waves of illness coming into our community in the past it was O.K. to sort of let our guard down. And I think we’ve learned unfortunately that it’s one of those things where we’re going to see these peaks and valleys of disease in our community.”

Since October, 2021 the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s mass vaccination clinic on Battlefield Road had administered over 13,000 doses to area residents. But the decision has now been made to move the department’s vaccine and testing operations to the smaller Westside Public Health Center on Scenic Avenue.

“That is due to many different reasons,” Towns explained. “But largely due to the fact that we’ve made significant progress in vaccinating a lot of people through the use of that facility. And yes, we’ve also seen a pretty dramatic decline in cases which I know is welcome news for everyone.”

The seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Greene County has gone from 770 cases in late January to just 54 on Friday, February 25.

The health department is still hoping to get the current 53.5 percent vaccination rate up to 70 percent and beginning Monday COVID-19 testing and vaccination will be available each weekday at the Westside clinic. Testing appointments will run Monday-Friday from 8-11:15 a.m. and vaccinations from 1-4:30 p.m. For appointments, call the COVID-19 Call Center at 417-874-1211 or visit COVIDTesting417.com and vaccine417.com. Patients receiving their first and second dose can still receive $50 gift cards at the Westside clinic as supplies last.

Additionally, various pop-up clinics for walk-in vaccinations will be held on evenings and weekends. No appointments are necessary for vaccine clinics. Upcoming clinics include:

Monday, Feb. 28

Willard Library (305 E. Jackson St.), 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 1

Central High School (423 E. Central) 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Maps with testing and vaccination opportunities can be found at COVIDTesting417.com and Vaccine 417.com.

Organizations interested in hosting a vaccination clinic can fill out the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Interest Form.

On Friday there was a good turn-out at a pop-up clinic at the Aids Project of the Ozarks downtown location.

Missouri State junior Tanner Shelton came to get a booster shot after getting his original vaccine 10 months ago and then getting COVID-19. But Shelton does believe that getting the original shot kept him from having more severe symptoms.

“I just felt very fatigued,” he recalled. “The vaccine is supposed to lessen the symptoms so I decided to get my booster just so I could be more protected.”

Like many people, Tanner said the pandemic has affected his life.

“Going to school is hard. And going to school during COVID is harder,” he said. “When all of my classes were online my grades slipped and my motivation slipped. Recently when classes started going back to in-person it’s not a coincidence that my grades were higher, that I see more of my friends and that I’m having more fun.”

On Friday the CDC released its latest masking recommendations in which it breaks down every county in the country into three categories: low, medium or high which are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

Here is its rating for Greene County:

In Greene County, Missouri, community level is Medium.

You can go here to check your county’s COVID-19 Community Level.

“There is still disease present,” Towns added. “I would just ask that people be cautious and respectful especially of those with underlying health conditions and use masking when you’re in situations where you could potentially expose another person. So sitting in close quarters with other folks for an extended periods of time or standing in facilities where you’re waiting for something.”

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