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Health leaders say vaccine education will be crucial to reaching wide-spread immunity



As doses of COVID-19 vaccines are continuing to be administered to the first phase of Missourians, health leaders are eyeing education strategies to inform the public about the vaccine.

According to a poll sponsored by the Missouri Hospital Association, 58-percent of Missourians are very or somewhat likely to seek the vaccine immediately when it becomes available to the public.

Around 800 Missourians from different regions and age groups of the state were polled for this survey.

A spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association Dave Dillion said the number saying they are unsure about the vaccine is concerning because it will take about 60 to 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated before reaching herd immunity.

"The core goal is to get to a high enough level of vaccination to where many of the things we do every day now are no longer necessary," Dillon said. "That is the core goal, but that will take time."

According to the data, more rural areas of Missouri show hesitancy in getting the vaccine. Also in the survey, 79 percent of the older population, more at risk for severe symptoms, said they were very or somewhat likely to get the vaccine

The communication of the vaccine will likely be a team effort between health care systems, local health departments and local leaders according to Dillon.

"Finding the right messenger is almost as important as finding the target audience," Dillon said.

These communication campaigns come at a cost, and Dillon said more federal funding will likely come down to help with the organization and the education of the distribution of the vaccine.

In addition, he said several health care systems and non-profits are already working on funding campaigns.

"We're working on sets of tools that explain to people using community leaders and health care leaders that are close enough to them to connect with to try to explain the importance of doing this," Dillon said.

There is a long road ahead and a lot of questions to be answered, and Dillon said it will depend on when it's

"When we understand what the volume of vaccine will be will determine how and where and logistics behind the mass vaccination campaign," Dillion said.

Cole County Commissioner Sam Bushman said there is money set aside for communication around the vaccine, and that the focus will need to be on how and where the public can get it once available.

"I think the federal government will probably be putting out quite a bit out as well, but we're going to need to let the public know where to go to get the vaccine and who can get the vaccine," Bushman said.

Bushman said they had set aside CARES Act funding for communication-related to the pandemic, but the timing was off when it was set aside

"Things are going to be changing now, so this may be something we consider," Bushman said.

The Director of Cole County Health Department Kristi Campbell said it is relying heavily on the state's MOSTOPSCOVID website for communication.

We will be relying heavily on the MOSTOPSCOVID or for information from MODHSS. It's very important for this website information to be given to all our constituents.

MODHSS will be using this website to educate everyone on the facts about the vaccine, the Phases and the timeline. The information is changing quickly and it's important to have one source for the accurate information.

Kristi Campbell, Cole County Health Department

She also mentioned the department is working with health care providers to do press briefings and relay local information.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus
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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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