As vaccine eligibility in Missouri expands, many vaccination opportunities are available for Boone County residents, including through MU Health Care and Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.
Phase 3 opened Friday and encompasses all Missouri residents 16 and older, regardless of occupation. Anyone 16 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those 18 or older can also receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services held a COVID-19 vaccination event from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday at The Blue Note. It was originally open for bar, restaurant and entertainment industry workers, but the Health Department opened it up to anyone 18 or older Thursday afternoon, according to a tweet.
Health Educator Ashton Day said that as eligibility expands in Missouri, the Health Department’s focus will be on educating the community and broadening their outreach in order to help people decide if and how they will get vaccinated.
“Supply is not an issue anymore, and it’s not a matter of taking your shot away from someone else as it would've been in the beginning,” Day said. “Just getting signed up as soon as possible is something we’re encouraging.”
According to Day, the percentage of Boone County citizens that have been vaccinated so far is 39.6%.
Although COVID-19 vaccination rates are on the rise and cases are dropping, the rollout has been far from simple. Day said the COVID-19 vaccine differs from past vaccines because the state controls the dispersion of doses to local vaccinators rather than the local public health department. This setup makes it difficult to keep track of how many vaccines are received in the county, how many vaccination appointments are available and how many doses go to waste.
“We work closely with some of the local vaccinators, especially the two hospitals in town, so we can kind of know what they have, but there’s no way for us to know for sure,” Day said.
Additionally, as vaccines become more readily available to the general public, residents have an option of which vaccine they want to get.
“What we’ve seen commonly is that people want the Johnson & Johnson if they want the one and done,” Day said. “Some people want Pfizer specifically because it’s available for those 16 and older rather than 18 and older.”
Although COVID-19 vaccine supply is more accessible to the public, the Health Department still recommends that people take the first vaccination opportunity they get unless they are allergic to an ingredient or chemical in the formula.
Among those vaccinated Friday was MU senior Kimberlee Nanna, who said she got COVID-19 around the end of July and is excited for things to open back up again slowly.
“I’m excited to be able to go see my friends and travel,” she said. “I’m excited to see some of my close friends without wearing a mask and to hug them. It’s going to be awesome to see people in public.”
Teddy Maiorca, who received a vaccine Friday, said he was relieved to be over the “first hump” and expressed joy at the Health Department’s decision to hold the event at The Blue Note.
“It’s kind of ironic (to be vaccinated at The Blue Note). It’s kind of the first step to getting back here,” said Maiorca, who misses going to concerts and festivals. “If as soon as everything is ‘back to normal,’ Post Sex Nachos played here, that would be super fun.”
The Health Department said in a news release that it is working with restaurant, bar and venue owners and managers to offer workers more vaccination opportunities. It will hold a second dose clinic May 7, again at The Blue Note.
Trina Teacutter, who has worked at the Health Department for 22 years, helped those getting vaccinated. She said that she has helped vaccinate up to 1,800 people so far.
“We’re passionate about public health,” Teacutter said. “This is exciting for us because we feel like we’re doing something proactive to help bring this pandemic to an end, so we’re able to go anywhere to provide vaccinations to people.”
In a collaboration with the state of Missouri and Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, MU Health Care will hold a COVID-19 vaccination event Thursday through Saturday at the Walsworth Family Columns Club at Faurot Field.
According to a news release, 7,000 appointment slots have been made available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days, and second dose appointments will be scheduled 21 days later. Parental consent is required for those under 18 years old.