Next phase of COVID-19 vaccines involving essential workers could be 8 weeks away

COVID Vaccine Updates

FILE – In this Jan. 9, 2021, file photo, vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are placed next to a loaded syringe in Throop, Pa. On Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, California’s state epidemiologist Dr. Erica S. Pan recommended providers stop using lot 41L20A of the Moderna vaccine pending completion of an investigation by state officials, Moderna, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the federal Food and Drug Administration, because some people received medical treatment for possible severe allergic reactions. (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield Greene-County Health Director Clay Goddard says nearby communities are working together to get the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people in the Ozarks as possible.

Goddard told Springfield City Council members at the Tuesday, January 19, 2021, Council Lunch the Health Department received a shipment of vaccines Tuesday. That supply will be used to vaccinate the rest of the people in vaccine phase 1A, which is front line health care workers and firefighters.

Goddard also anticipates the effort to finish the 1A group’s vaccines will wrap up this week.

When the department receives its next shipment, those doses will go to people in Phase 1B. The state allows the vaccination of Tier 1 and Tier 2 in Phase 1B. Those tiers include first responders, people 65 and older, and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Goddard says getting vaccines in arms is “how a community heals. It’s not by treating people who are sick, it’s by preventing disease in the first place through the vaccine.”

High-risk groups should reach out to their health provider about getting the vaccine. Those without a primary care doctor can reach out to the Jordan Valley Health Center

“We anticipate this is a question of when it will arrive in Missouri, not if,” Goddard said of the COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Goddard told council members the best way to protect the community from this variant is to continue precautions like masking, distancing, and hand washing.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is helping local hospitals and approved vaccinators work through the tiers of Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccination plan together.

Goddard says health officials are talking about vaccinating the next tier of Phase 1B right now. Tier 3 includes essential workers. Goddard said realistically, it will be 8 weeks before the state moves to this phase. The plan depends on vaccine supply, but we could see larger vaccination clinics when this phase begins.

Goddard responded to a question about outlying areas and vaccine supply by letting the council know, “We’re helping to move vaccine into communities based on need with the current priority structure.” COVID-19 vaccines can only be ordered in quantities of 1,000 doses, so the health department is working with surrounding counties’ departments to share those orders and get doses to outlying communities.

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