Vaccination efforts for COVID-19 are continuing in Franklin County and medical professionals are urging residents to become vaccinated as vaccines become available.
To date, 7.9 percent or 8,237 Franklin County residents, have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Thomas Jackson, medical director of Missouri Baptist Sullivan, said it’s vital that those efforts continue. “The vaccine is the most important thing,” Jackson said. “We are finding out how to protect ourselves against (COVID-19) and even the variants, is the vaccine itself.”
Jackson said the vaccines available, Moderna and Pfizer, are both safe and effective.
“They are all very good at preventing and decreasing hospitalizations and death,” Jackson said, adding the single-shot vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson also is proving to be effective. “I know there is a perception out there that Moderna and Pfizer are the best, but at this point if we want the pandemic to end, we should vaccinate with what we can get.”
Rumors that the vaccines were not fully vetted are false, according to Jackson, who said the federal money funneled to the vaccination testing period helped move it along.
“They were able to do all the stages and phases for the vaccines at the same time,” Jackson said. “The protocol used in the Pfizer and Moderna studies has been around for about 20-30 years.”
He added there has been no evidence to suggest the vaccine can cause death or poses significant risk to those who are pregnant.
“It is hard to get physicians and nurses to agree on stuff, and all of our societies are saying yes to these vaccines,” Jackson said. “That is a very rare occurrence in the medical community. So, that should be somewhat helpful to people to know that (the vaccines) are safe.”
Jackson said an added benefit to receiving the vaccine is those exposed to the virus, who are fully vaccinated, are not required to quarantine.
Currently, Missouri Baptist in Sullivan is not administering the vaccine, and Thompson said there is no timeline for when that will happen.
“We’re trying to get some but I can’t guarantee that we will or when it is going to happen,” Jackson said.
Meanwhile, the hospital is working with the Barnes-Jewish Christian Hospital system, which residents can register with to get the vaccine.
Mercy Clinic Four Rivers President Dr. David Chalk said as of Wednesday, Feb. 10, 5,035 people were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at the Washington location and 121,000 people had been vaccinated throughout the Mercy system.
As of Thursday, 25,800 people had registered to be on the waitlist to receive the vaccine from the Mercy Clinic in Washington.
“I am very encouraged by the community’s desire to be vaccinated,” Chalk said. “(The vaccine) isn’t a coat of armor but it gives some sort of protection. That gives (those vaccinated) a sigh of relief and assurance.”
The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. “It’s by appointment only and that is very, very important,” Chalk said. “We don’t want to disappoint anyone, and we have had to turn people away because they didn’t have (an appointment).”
Those needing a booster shot or second dose have been the “largest guide” in determining how many people can be scheduled to receive their first dose, he said.
“We are encouraged by some of the more recent developments at the state level, which forecast distribution that will become more reliable,” Chalk said, adding he appreciated Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker being so vocal about the need for more vaccine.
The clinic will be administering booster shots to roughly 1,200 people this weekend, according to Chalk.
Those who wish to receive the vaccine through Mercy can do so by appointment only and must register to receive the vaccine at mercy.net/MOvaccine or call 1-833-364-6777.