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By Marlana Smith
The Shelby County Health Department received 40+ doses Tuesday evening, Jan. 19 from an agreement with surrounding counties in Region B to share a shipment of Pfizer vaccine.
According to Health Dept. Administrator Audrey Gough, Pfizer is currently the only vaccine that is available to local public health departments. The minimum shipment is 975 doses that must be kept at -80 degrees F.
“Since health departments do not have access to extreme cold storage in their facilities, an off-site distributor must accept that vaccine for us and then it is broken down to be distributed amongst those participating counties,” said Gough.
The health department’s first shipment was earmarked to finish all those in tier 1a which were the front-line healthcare workers, EMS, etc. Once the SCHD was able to assure vaccine in arms for those residents, they were able to begin on their list of 1b participants in tier 2.
Tier 2 consists of those over 65 years of age, and those 18-64 who are identified as high risk according to the CDC guidance.
“We were able to give 47 doses on Wednesday, Jan. 20,” Gough added.
As of Friday, Jan. 22, the health dept. had another regional order at the state awaiting confirmation of its request for doses.
Gough said orders for the vaccine must be submitted to Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) by 5 p.m. on Wednesday of every week.
DHSS has a group who goes through the orders and decides how to divide up the vaccine that is allotted to the state.
Gough explained that Missouri has been steadily receiving 76-77,000 doses per week.
“That has to be distributed throughout the state. The number of doses that are shipped to Missouri each week is dependent on the reporting of the vaccination sites entering the data of each individual who receives the vaccine and how much vaccine is on hand at the end of each day,” Gough added.
Gough said that the health dept. will receive notification of its order over the weekend with date of shipment and tracking information as well.
“So, as you can see, we are at the mercy of the federal and state government as the demand is much higher than the supply at this time,” Gough explained.
The health dept. continues to take names for a waiting list and will be calling to make appointments for people as soon as they receive confirmation of shipment based on the amount of vaccine they anticipate receiving.
After an individual receives the vaccine, they must wait within the facility where it is administered for 15 minutes to assess for any side effects.
“So, this slows down the process of how many we could serve in a day’s time,” Gough said. “We ask folks to continue to be patient and if the opportunity arises that they could receive it at another site such as Hannibal Regional Hospital then we strongly encourage folks to do so.”
“We are working closely together with them to assure we get vaccine in the arms of our Shelby County residents that want the vaccine,” Gough added.
The health dept. assures those who want to be vaccinated they will be calling to set up appointments when the times comes based on where those are on the list.
Gough said as of right now, there are well over 650 residents who want to be vaccinated.
Gough encourages the public to stay tuned to the SCHD Facebook page and to the local newspapers’ Facebook pages as information is pushed out when it becomes available.