By Chance Chamberlain
COVID-19 vaccinations are now going to be available at Cass Regional Medical Center (CRMC). The hospital’s administration was informed last week it would receive 1,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines every other week. CRMC Administrative Director of Foundation, Marketing and Public Relations Sonya McLelland, said she is excited to receive guaranteed shipments of vaccines to assist in the fight against the virus.
“We are just eager to get everybody vaccinated who wants it because we want to work hard to end this pandemic. We received good news in our fight against the virus on Friday when we were approved to receive 1,200 doses of the vaccine every other week by the state of Missouri as part of Gov. Parson’s new vaccine distribution plan,” she said.
CRMC will receive vaccines through a consortium which also includes Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton, Boswell Hospital in Sedalia and Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall. Each hospital will split the deliveries of 4,800 total doses every two weeks.
McLelland said, “We had previously not been able to get vaccines. There was a lot of uncertainty because we would request vaccines, but it didn’t guarantee we would get them, but this new development means we will receive doses for sure.
“We are now working alongside the Cass County Health Department (CCHD)to strategize plans for administering the vaccine as well as notifying people about the availability. Last time we received doses to vaccinate people, word spread quickly and all of our open appointments were filled within a couple of days,” she said.
Due to the number of people interested in the vaccine, CRMC is working to notify eligible residents to set up vaccination appointments using survey responses obtained by the health department.
Since Jan. 5, more than 21,000 Cass County residents have filled out the COVID-19 vaccination survey.
McLelland said, “We will not make any further announcements regarding shipments of the vaccine because of the last response to appointment openings. Instead, all future appointments will be handled through the health department. They will also handle all notifications regarding doses and administration plans within the county.”
Although shipments are guaranteed, there is still uncertainty about the administration method CRMC will use. McLelland said the hospital is developing a plan with the health department to vaccinate high volumes of people safely.
“We are still working on the logistics of administering the vaccine and right now our next first-dose vaccination day is set for Feb. 22.
“We have proven that we can vaccinate 200 people per day, but for these new shipments we will expand our hours and I expect we can vaccinate 300 people per day,” she said. “We have been doing vaccinations in the rotunda through the main entrance of the hospital, but we are exploring safer ways to vaccinate the high volume of people.”
Alongside the shipments received by CRMC, the health department received its first 400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Jan. 27 and administered 320 doses by Jan. 29, according to the statement released by the county office Monday. The remaining doses of the first vaccine shipment were administered via a drive-through clinic.
Previously, the health department had no doses of the vaccine, so it was unable to distribute any doses due to a lack of supply. According to the release, the health department will administer doses according to the phases set by the Missouri Vaccination Plan.
Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson said, “Cass County needs the vaccines to vaccinate its citizens. Unfortunately, the demand for vaccines greatly exceeds our current supply.
“We have communicated with state officials in hopes of expediting the process of getting shots into the arms of people who want the vaccine. Our people deserve this.”
Vaccination opportunities will be sent to those who have signed up on the county survey at http://www.casscounty.com/2462/ COVID-19_Vaccine.