More people now qualified, but little vaccine available

By Chance Chamberlain

The State of Missouri has announced the advancement to Phase 1B of the vaccination process and concern has been raised throughout the county regarding the clarification of each phase.

Cass County Health Department Director Andrew Warlen said, “Currently, the state is in Phase 1B, Tier 1 and 2. Tier 1 includes first responders, emergency services, public works, non-patient facing healthcare workers and emergency management. Tier 2 consists of anyone age 65 and older and any adults with pre-existing medical conditions.”

The state government released a list of qualifying pre-existing medical conditions which includes cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, type two diabetes and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Warlen said, “The government statement was confusing because he opened up the next tier but didn’t explain that we would have to wait for a greater supply of vaccines. The demand is there, but the supply hasn’t risen yet.

“We haven’t notified any eligible survey participants about the vaccine because we don’t have any doses at this time. We will not see any doses at the health department until the first or second week of February and even that is still an uncertainty at this point.”

Although the health department has yet to receive any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Warlen said he will be ready to vaccinate as soon as shipments arrive.

“We have placed an order and are registered to administer the vaccine. Our first order consists of 800 doses and as soon as we get it, we will order more. We wanted to be prepared to administer as soon as the vaccines arrive,” he said.

With shipments on the way, the timeline for the health department to begin administration is still unclear according to Warlen.

“We really won’t know the timeline until we receive our doses and have an avenue to provide vaccinations. We are the only distributor of the vaccine in this area and we can’t contact anybody until we have the vaccine in our facility,” he said.

The health department has provided a survey at which will be used to notify participants upon the arrival of doses to the department and the advancement of the state’s vaccination plan.

Once contacted, instruction will be provided on how to sign up for vaccination and the location of administration.


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