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First round of COVID-19 vaccines coming to Cape County this week

COVID-19 vaccinations are coming to Cape Girardeau County as early as this week, according to Cape Girardeau County Director of Emergency Management Mark Winkler.

Winkler told county commissioners on Dec. 10 that Southeast Hospital will be a regional “reception site for the vaccine” and is expecting 1,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine between Dec. 15 and Dec. 17 to be given to healthcare workers.

The vaccine is going to 21 sites in the state, including Southeast Hospital. According to Winkler, the 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will need to be administered over 12 hours because of the need to keep the vaccine at extremely low temperatures.

Phase 1A of Missouri’s plan prioritizes vaccinating health care workers, staff of long-term care facilities and residents of skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities.

Vaccines will be distributed through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities through an agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wal-greens and CVS pharmacies.

DHSS Director Dr. Randal Williams said Missouri would receive 51,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine within 24 hours of Friday’s emergency use authorization from the federal government.

Williams added that Missouri is also expecting 105,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, if it receives approval from the federal government on Dec. 17. If the FDA approves Moderna’s vaccine, Missouri is scheduled to receive an approximate total of 339,725 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of the year.

Williams said the Moderna vaccine, if approved, will be used to vaccinate long-term care residents in the state, because the Moderna vaccine does not need to be kept at as low of a temperature as the Pfizer vaccine.

County Commissioner Charlie Herbst asked Winkler if residents from nearby counties would need to travel into the county to receive the vaccine. Winkler said Southeast Hospital will be responsible for vaccinating residents in a 23-county region, but plans are still in development.

“We have a lot of questions to get answered,” Winkler said on Thursday. “As soon as we can get those answers, the better we will all be.” He said the County was ready to provide resources or personnel, if needed.

Winkler did add that Cape Central High School has indicated that they would be open to being a drive-through location for the vaccine. He said the high school, being close to the interstate, might be a way to lower the risk of travel through the county.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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