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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

As COVID Vaccines Become Available, Local Healthcare Leaders Are Prioritizing Those Most At Risk

KSMU Archives

Local health leaders want to be sure you know how to sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine so that, when the shots become available, you will be notified.  They gave an update Wednesday on where the community is in the effort to get vaccines to those who want one.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department, CoxHealth, Mercy and Jordan Valley Community Health Center are collaborating to vaccinate the community.

And, assistant health department director, Katie Towns, said, since vaccine supply is very limited right now, they’re prioritizing those most at risk of serious complications or death if they contract COVID-19. 

Towns said they’re working together to make the process as smooth as possible, and they’re pulling names from lists generated by those three healthcare providers.

"We have decided against creating list after list for different events on different days and for who gets vaccine and when," she said.  "We want this to be as streamlined and simple as possible."

An event run by the Missouri National Guard Friday, February 5, in Springfield is by appointment only, and those who are eligible have been contacted.  If someone doesn’t show up for their appointment, another person who is eligible will be contacted.

You can find information about how to get in the queue to receive a vaccine on the health department’s website and on the local healthcare providers’ websites:

CoxHealth:  COVID-19 Vaccine | CoxHealth  Phone:  417-269-3000

Mercy Springfield:  Phone:  833-364-6777

Jordan Valley Community Health Center:  Jordan Valley Community Health Center | Springfield, MO  Phone:  417-831-0150

You may also call the health department at 417-874-1211 for more information.

So far, Cox and Mercy Springfield have each vaccinated around 14,000 people, and Cox will give shots to 5700 more people—both the public and Cox employees--in the next few days.  Jordan Valley has given out around 9600 vaccines locally.  Local health leaders are hopeful vaccine production will ramp up soon.

Cox and Mercy are included in hospitals that the state is getting extra vaccines to this month to try to get as many people vaccinated as possible.  When Mercy gets an expected 5700 doses next week, it will share 1200 of those with Mercy Joplin, 1200 with Freeman Hospital in Joplin and 500 with CMH in Bolivar.

CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards said we're in a trough right now with COVID-19 cases down.  But he said variants of the novel coronavirus will likely affect the community.  He said they're committed to vaccinating everyone who wants a shot, and he's hopeful new vaccines will be approved.  And vaccinating a large number of people, he said, benefits everyone.

"As variants become more infectious, the number of people that need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity goes up," said Edwards.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has announced the Finish Strong Challenge.  They've included information about how many people have been vaccinated on their website and will also have a sign outside the department's offices.

Eric Frederick, chief administrative officer for Mercy Springfield, said they're also committed to getting shots to anyone wants one once supply is available. 

"The community demand is there," he said.  "Our list right now is about 60,000 people that have signed up to receive the vaccine.  But the missing factor is the vaccine itself, but we know that's coming."

And they'll continue to focus on also getting vaccines to their community clinics in places like Rolla, Lebanon, Bolivar, Branson and Mountain Grove.

Fredrick said the goal is to make sure those who sign up to get a vaccine from Mercy don't have to drive more than 30 minutes.

Dr. Matthew Stinson, vice-president of medical and behavioral heatlh services at Jordan Valley Community Health Center, said they're also working to get vaccine, not only to people in Springfield, but in other communities as well.  They've given vaccines to the Taney County Health Department and worked in partnership wtih Mercy Lebanon to give shots there..  And they are the regional implementation team for Missouri Region I and have been part of a National Guard vaccination event in Pulaski County, and they'll be part of one in Rolla Friday.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.