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Health officials fighting coronavirus vaccine hesitancy as eligibility opens up



Health officials are working to combat coronavirus vaccine hesitancy as Missouri prepares to greatly expand eligibility in the coming weeks.

Sara Humm from the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said the department is working with Bucket Media on a vaccine education campaign.

The education campaign takes on extra importance with millions of more Missourians becoming eligible for the vaccine starting next week.

Phase 2 of the state's vaccination program will open up next Monday ahead of schedule. The most recent expansion of eligibility before that was on March 15, when teachers, grocery workers and other employees deemed "critical infrastructure" became eligible.

Phase 3 which will include all Missourians to be eligible for the vaccine, will open up on April 9.

The Cole County Health Department is also looking to make residents more aware of the benefits of receiving a vaccine. The department will use materials produced by the state to promote the vaccine, said Kristi Campbell, department director.

"We are also working with our community partners and other organizations to explore the need for some additional local educational events or to provide educational materials," Campbell said.

Cole County held a mass vaccination event at The Linc in Jefferson City on Friday and was unable to fill all available appointments, giving out 1,795 doses.

Campbell said part of the issue with not filling appointments for last Friday was with the scheduling system.

"By scheduling the educational staff first, it left less time and created some additional steps for the eligible public to register," Campbell said. "We think those issues have been resolved and will not be an issue for future events."

Campbell said the unopened, leftover vaccine vials will be used next week in Cole County clinics.

Campbell said the county doesn't have a specific vaccination rate goal. She said normally 30% to 40% of the population receives a flu shot.

She said if the county gets to a vaccination rate over 50%, "that would be fantastic."

In a news conference last Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson said that he expects 60% of the Missouri population to want to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

He said the state expects to receive a large number of coronavirus vaccines from the federal government and it is important to have enough eligible people who want to be vaccinated.

But some residents are hesitant about getting vaccinated because the coronavirus vaccine happened quickly.

The state vaccination website has information informing the public of why the coronavirus vaccine is safe and why people should want to receive it.

According to the state dashboard, Boone County has the third-highest percentage of residents receiving a first dose of the vaccine at 27.6%.

Cole County has a first-dose vaccination rate of 23.7% which equates to 29,196 doses of the coronavirus vaccine being given out. Callaway County has a vaccination rate of first-dose 20.5% which equates to 14,236 doses of the vaccine being given out.

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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