Liberty Hospital COVID vaccination

Liberty Hospital Pharmacy Director Amy Benson places doses the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in an ultra-cold freezer.

To help maximize vaccinations in the state’s newly announced expanded categories, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Missouri Hospital Association partnered to connect business and health care professionals to information about the COVID-19 vaccination process.

The goal of the partnership is to increase businesses’ awareness of eligibility in the expanding categories, educate the targeted individuals on vaccination venues for workers — individually and in larger scale vaccination clinic efforts — and accelerate the administration’s Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan.

“Full recovery will require broad-based immunity in the population,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO. “Businesses of all sizes — from family restaurants to large-scale manufacturing — will benefit from a vaccination process that is understandable, convenient and efficient.”

As the state’s vaccination program moves from health care workers and the most vulnerable to essential workers, seniors and other at-risk populations, the effort will shift from institutionally focused to a broad, community-based program.

"As this transition occurs, affected workers and businesses need information about whether they qualify for vaccination, whether vaccine is available locally and where to seek an immunization," states a release.

The partnership is designed to help workers and businesses understand the process and find a vaccination site.

“In many Missouri communities, hospitals have the most ability to deliver vaccines at scale to targeted populations and the public,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “Hospitals stand ready to assist local businesses to educate and vaccinate when the broader efforts begin. It will take hospitals, public health, primary care and the entire health care system being mobilized to vaccinate more than 6 million Missourians.”

Together, the Missouri Chamber and MHA will provide ongoing educational materials and programs to help employers understand which workers are eligible within the state’s program and when. At the same time, the partners will help businesses understand where to access vaccine and vaccinators in their communities.

“The state’s plan is the foundation for our efforts moving forward,” Kuhn said. “We appreciate the  (Gov. Mike) Parson administration’s engagement in vaccine distribution. As we move to a much broader program, the health care community, businesses, workers and other stakeholders will all have an increasing role in efforts to expedite the process. Working with the state, our institutions can help advance toward recovery.”

Recent survey research finds only 58% of Missourians are "very" or "somewhat" likely to seek the vaccine immediately when it becomes available to the public.

"However, widespread immunity — which is essential to full recovery and return to normal — will require a higher percentage of participation," states a release from the Missouri Chamber and MHA.

In Clay County, vaccinations of health care workers and residents at nursing home facilities began last week. Currently, pharmacies, employers and Clay County Public Health Center offer vaccines for Phase 1A priority groups. However, as of Thursday, Jan. 14, the state expanded vaccination phases, allowing more population groups to receive the vaccine under the state's Phase 1B of its recovery plan. These new groups include first responders, public health professionals not facing patients as well as emergency management and public works employees.

Phase 1B — Tier 2 will be activated Monday, Jan. 18. Tier 2 focuses on those at increased risk for severe illness, including individuals aged 65 and older and any adult with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, heart conditions, a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or Type 2 Diabetes.

It is unclear when vaccines for those in Phase 1B will be available at the county public health center in Liberty.

As of Thursday, Clay County has recorded 16,686 cases of COVID-19 and 232 related deaths, up a dozen deaths since Monday, Jan. 11.

“Health care professionals — especially Missourian’s primary care providers — are a trusted voice in the conversation about vaccines,” said Mehan. “To get our businesses back to full capacity and protect our workers, widespread immunity through vaccination will be essential. This partnership will align our goals — the state’s plan, businesses’ efforts to fully reopen safely and health care leaders’ advance toward immunity — as we undertake the educational efforts and complicated logistics of statewide vaccine distribution and vaccination.”

To learn more about the COVID vaccine and county resources available, visit clayhealth.com/301/COVID-19-Vaccine.

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Courier-Tribune Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski contributed to this report.

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