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Hospital issues warning about vaccine scam

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Dr. Curtis Schreiber with CMH’s Neurology and Headache Center holds a sign stating why he’s choosing to be vaccinated as he receives his COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan on Monday, Dec. 28. 

Just two weeks into its COVID-19 vaccination process, Citizens Memorial Hospital is warning local residents about a scam circulating in the community. 

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According to CMH director of marketing Tamera Heitz-Peek, the hospital received phone calls over the weekend “from older patients who all reported receiving calls from CMH stating the vaccine is being offered for $150.” 

“This is a scam, and people should be cautious,” Heitz-Peek said.  

She said CMH is not yet offering the COVID-19 vaccine to the public and remains in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan. 

“We are following the state vaccination plan by vaccinating frontline health care workers and long-term care residents and staff first,” Heitz-Peek said. 

By Tuesday, Jan. 5, CMH had vaccinated over 1,000 employees and long-term care residents, she said. The hospital began the process of administering vaccinations to hospital, clinic and long-term care staff and residents on Tuesday, Dec. 22, per previous coverage.  

She said the hospital has not yet received information about the next phase of Missouri’s plan, which would include the vaccination of first responders, essential workers, high-risk individuals ages 18 to 64 and people ages 65 and older.  

According to Missouri’s vaccination plan, available online at covidvaccine.mo.gov/, the state is “committed to providing a free COVID-19 vaccination experience to all Missourians, including those without insurance.” 

“No person can be billed for the COVID-19 vaccine,” per the state’s vaccination plan.  

However, providers may charge an administration fee to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, if applicable to the situation, the plan states.  

“Uninsured Missourians will be able to receive the vaccination regardless of their health insurance status,” according to the plan. 

Lt. Roger Barron said the Bolivar Police Department had not received reports of the CMH scam as of press time Tuesday. 

However, he said people should continue to verify information before sending money to individuals who contact them about a service. 

The news of the vaccination scam comes as Polk County’s COVID-19 caseload has seen a swift increase. 

As of press time Tuesday, the Polk County Health Center had reported 2,685 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. There were 203 active cases. 

On Thursday, Dec. 31, the center added 71 cases to the county’s total in one day, with 33 of those linked to a long-term care facility, per Carol Bookhout with the health center. 

The center added another 66 positive COVID-19 cases to the county’s total on Monday, Jan. 4, and another 43 cases on Tuesday, Jan. 5. 

“As expected, we are beginning to see an increase due to holiday gatherings and travel,” a health center stated in a post on social media. “We expect all Polk County residents to continue to mask, social distance and wash hands.” 

For more information about Missouri’s vaccination plan, visit covidvaccine.mo.gov/.

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