Amber Schmitt prepares a COVID-19 vaccine

Amber Schmitt prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Mercy Washington Tuesday, Dec. 15. 

Editor's note: Following the publication of this story in Friday's issue, The Missourian spoke with Presiding Franklin Commissioner Tim Brinker about updated vaccination registration plans. The story below has been updated to include that additional information.

Franklin County residents are able to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations now at various agencies, with other sign-ups coming soon.

"We're going to need everybody's help on this one. The key to this vaccination thing is that everybody do that registration online and get scheduled," Brinker told The Missourian Friday afternoon. "My biggest concern is older adults who don't have access to the internet. We've got to put out there, please anyone who knows someone who doesn't have access, reach out to them and help them register."

 

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday the state has begun Phase 1B of Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. The plan begins with tier 1, meaning first responders, emergency service providers and those in public health are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Beginning the activation of Phase 1B is all about saving lives and protecting those most vulnerable to exposure and illness from this virus,” Parson said. “We are looking forward to increased vaccine supply in the coming weeks as supply is the leading factor that dictates our movement through our plan. The more supply we receive, the quicker we can reach our goal of making vaccines available to every Missourian who wants one.”

Registration through mercy.net/movaccine is now live.

Parson announced tier 2 would be activated Monday, Jan. 18. Tier 2 will focus on Missourians with a high risk of developing severe illness, including anyone aged 65 and older and any adults with cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, individuals with Down syndrome and more.

Regardless of which group a person is in, Brinker said they can register online and be notified when it’s their turn to get the vaccine.

Franklin County commissioners approved an agreement Thursday, Jan. 14, with Patagonia Health Inc., of Cary, N.C. 

“It will make it easier upon the date of vaccination,” Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said after the meeting. “It will minimize your time and make it a more fluid process. It’s very good stuff.”

Franklin County Health Department, Mercy, county ambulance districts, the Union Police department and many other volunteers will be holding a vaccination clinic Jan. 30 at the Union City Auditorium. Registration for this event will be forthcoming with anticipated capacity of approximately 1000 vaccines for that day, according to a Friday press release from the Franklin County Commission.

Bethany Pope, media relations manager for the hospital, wrote in an email that Mercy began Thursday assisting with the vaccination of those in Phase 1B tier 1, including its non-patient facing health care workers and first responders. Mercy also will assist with tiers 2 and 3 of the vaccination plan. 

“Mercy appreciates the opportunity to support the state’s efforts to fully protect Missourians during this important time and will continue to do so as long as the state’s vaccine supply allows,” she wrote.

A complete list of who is included in each tier of the statewide vaccination plan is available at covidvaccine.mo.gov. According to the state, the vaccination is free to all Missourians, including any without insurance, although some providers may charge an administration fee. 

But a person who took part in Friday morning’s meeting said the vaccination schedule for all communities was subject to change.

Parson did not announce a target start date for tier 3 of Phase 1B, which includes remaining essential workers such as teachers, food and agriculture workers, energy services and more. The state Department of Health and Senior Services has previously said about 3 million Missourians are included in Phase 1B, or about half of the state’s population.

In a news release, Parson said federal partners are significantly increasing supply to Missouri next week. Brinker said this will be beneficial to Franklin County

“This action by the state helps us glean the knowledge we need to glean,” he said. “Now we’re in concert with each other on working toward the ultimate elimination of this virus.”

While some states have not used all the doses of vaccines they have received, putting them at risk of expiring, Brinker is confident that will not happen here. 

Franklin County is paying Patagonia $5,000 for its mass vaccination software program, plus additional monthly subscription fees of $100. According to information from Patagonia, people can register on any device with internet, including smartphones and laptop computers. The system will send appointment confirmation and reminders by text message or email and has the capability to allow them to choose the off-site location where they would like to be vaccinated. 

Patagonia’s program automatically captures all patient data and uploads it into electronic health records and sends vaccination data to the state’s immunization registry, according to the company.

To get more answers regarding the vaccination and other COVID-19 resources, please call 877-435-8411.