COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
With a U.S. government advisory panel endorsing Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, Mid-Missouri is one step closer to getting its first doses.
According to Missouri's COVID-19 vaccination plan, the first to get the vaccine will be patient-facing health care workers and long-term care facilities.
The Assistant Director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said local health agencies won't play a huge role in the early distribution of the vaccinations.
For long-term care facilities, the U.S. Government is partnering with CVS and Walgreens for distribution. Clardy said the vaccine will also go to predetermined sites across the state for immediate distribution.
"Those are sites that can use the vaccine right away, probably health care facilities, and will also have the ability to store the Pfizer vaccine because the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at ultracold temperatures and not just everyone has those types of freezers," Clardy said.
This comes as Boone County is reporting hospital capacity in the "Yellow Status" meaning they are operating within the standard capacity and have been delaying non-emergency patient transfers from referring hospitals for at least two days and delaying non-urgent procedures to increase inpatient capacity.
Clardy says the vaccine is good news for hospital capacity as staffing continues to be the main issue facing hospitals right now. It will take time, he said because of the two doses required in this vaccine.
"It's not going to happen right away because you have to get that booster and wait for immunity to build, but ultimately this should be a huge help to the health care systems and their ability to take on more patients," Clardy said.
As for the number of cases, he said there isn't a large number of cases in health care workers, but he hopes this will start a decrease in transmission with the first doses administered.
"A lot of it is just community spread, where people go to gatherings weddings and sporting events and family events and that kind of stuff," Clardy said. "And we are seeing a lot of spread within a household, where one person becomes positive, and before you know it the whole household becomes positive."
As the vaccine becomes more readily available, the next group on Missouri's list is essential workers, and that's when Clardy said the health department will likely jump in.
"We're ready, we have plans in place for doing mass vaccinations, and we've exercised those plans both in exercises and in real life," Clardy said.
Clardy mentioned the department has had to do mass vaccination clinics during a mumps outbreak at the university, and during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
"I feel very confident in our ability to meet the need for that," Clardy said.