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Boone County Health Officials Prepare For '1B' Vaccine Distribution

Bram Sable-Smith

While health providers and public health officials across Missouri continue to work on getting people with the highest prioritization vaccinated against COVID-19, they are also preparing for the next phase. The 1B group laid out in the state's vaccination plan encompasses a wide variety of people, including high-risk individuals, first responders and a broad swathe of essential workers. 

The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department launched an online survey last week to gather information about residents looking to get vaccinated. The survey asks for residents age, employment and other basic information, in order to contact them when vaccines are available.

According to PHHS, more than 5,000 people have filled out the survey since Friday. PHHS Assistant Director Scott Clardy says the size of the 1B phase of vaccine distribution means it will be much more complicated.

"We’ve reached out to the state and told them that we are probably going to need a prioritization within group 1B of who they want us to do first within that group," Clardy said. The state provided a similar sub-prioritization list for the current phase of distribution, and Clardy said he expects a list for 1B by the end of the week. 

Healthcare providers have spearheaded vaccination efforts for healthcare workers, who comprise one of the groups in the ongoing 1A stage of distribution. However, PHHS and other local health departments will play a larger role in 1B and beyond. In anticipation, Clardy says his department has allocated more staff to carry out vaccinations. 

"We've brought on some additional temporary nursing staff that usually help us with our flu vaccine clinics," Clardy said. "They may be helping depending on how much vaccine we get, and how quickly we get it." 

As has been the case across the country, supply of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in Missouri has been more limited than the federal government originally estimated. Nevertheless, the state says it anticipates to finish vaccinating healthcare workers by the end of January

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia is a health reporter and documentary filmmaker who focuses on access to care in rural and immigrant communities. A native Spanish speaker and lifelong Missouri resident, Sebastián is interested in the often overlooked and under-covered world of immigrant life in the rural midwest. He has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. Aside from public health, his other interests include conservation, climate change and ecology.
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