Two local health organizations instrumental in the county’s fight against the new coronavirus pandemic have asked Polk County residents interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to fill out information online.
As Gov. Mike Parson announced last week Missouri will move into Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan, local leaders are making plans to receive and disburse vaccines to area residents.
According to Polk County Health Center community educator and public information officer Carol Bookhout, Polk County residents will have the option to receive vaccines through either the health center or Citizens Memorial Hospital.
“As vaccine becomes more readily available, there will likely be additional sites,” she said.
Polk County Health Center staff have created a survey for individuals interested in receiving the vaccine through the center, per a news release.
“This survey will enable our staff to prepare for vaccinations and ensure accurate supply of the vaccine for our county,” the release stated.
When the survey is completed, health center staff will contact individuals by email or phone to schedule appointment times when the center is serving the appropriate phase or tier in the plan, the release stated.
“Once we receive the vaccine, we will contact residents who are in the group designated for that vaccine shipment,” Bookhout said. “At that time, we will register residents for the vaccine and give them an appointment time for their shot.”
The form can be found online at form.jotform.com/Polk_County/VaccineSurvey. It’s also available on the Polk County Health Center website at polkcountyhealthcenter.org or on the center’s social media accounts.
Those who cannot complete the survey online can call the Polk County Health Center at 326-7250 for assistance.
“We know many in the community are anxious to receive their COVID-19 vaccination,” Bookhout said. “The Polk County Health Center administration and staff have prepared for large vaccinations such as this for many years.”
Bookhout said the health center is finalizing details to ensure when staff receive the vaccine that has been ordered from the Missouri State Health Department, there will be no delay in getting it to the county’s residents.
Currently, the center has around 450 Phase 1A residents who will receive the vaccine before staff begin contacting residents who completed the survey and are a part of Phase 1B, Tier 1, she said.
Citizens Memorial Hospital has also set up an online waitlist for patients and community members interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a CMH news release.
People can join the waitlist at http://bit.ly/CMHVAX2021. Current CMH patients will receive their vaccines at their CMH primary care clinics.
“Individuals who sign up on the waitlist will be contacted by a CMH representative when vaccine is available and appointments can be scheduled,” the release stated.
CMH is following Missouri’s vaccination plan, the release stated, which authorizes the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in phases.
“Missouri is currently vaccinating Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Tier 1 categories, which includes frontline healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, law enforcement, fire service and public health professionals,” per the release.
Per previous coverage, the state activated Tier 2 of Phase 1B for those at increased risk for severe illness, including individuals aged 65 and older and any adult with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities like Down Syndrome, heart conditions, a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, on Monday, Jan. 18.
According to CMH director of marketing Tamera Heitz-Peek, the health care organization has administered 1,308 doses of vaccine, including 914 for healthcare workers and 394 for long-term care residents, in Phase 1A of the plan as of Monday, Jan. 18.
She said the state recently announced Missouri would receive 34,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for the week of Jan. 25.
“We have placed an order for another shipment, and we hope to hear by the end of the week if CMH will receive any additional doses,” Heitz-Peek said.
She said it will be key for local residents to remain patient as CMH works to distribute the vaccine through “supply challenges.”
Heitz-Peek said the waitlists for both CMH and Polk County Health Center are important tools for those wanting a vaccine.
“Once a person is on the list, we will provide them more information as soon as supply is available,” she said.
Bookhout said while the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over, the vaccine — “a new weapon for the battle” — offers good news.
“The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective to prevent people from contracting the virus,” she said. “The community is ready to see lower numbers of reported cases, fewer people dealing with quarantine and no more COVID-19 related deaths. The best way to reach our goal is to be a part of the fight using the newest and most effective weapon, vaccination.”
Polk County Health Center administrator Michelle Morris said vaccines have been used for a number of years to stop the spread of disease.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will do the same for our community,” she said.
Morris said those with questions about the impact of the vaccine on their health should contact their primary care physicians.
“Our staff is here to answer questions regarding the vaccine and to assist everyone in getting the shot if they choose to do so,” Morris said. “The vaccine is vital in stopping the spread of COVID-19. We encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as it is available.”