Ozarks Healthcare selected as a 'high-throughput' vaccination site
Ozarks Healthcare (formerly Ozarks Medical Center) in West Plains has been selected as one of Missouri’s high-throughput covid-19 vaccination sites. The selection will allow the medical system to coordinate with the medical community to provide future vaccination clinics.
The announcement follows a cooperatively organized mass vaccination clinic at the West Plains Civic Center hosted Friday, Jan. 29, by OH, the Missouri National Guard, Howell County Health Department and City of West Plains. More than 2,800 Pfizer covid-19 vaccines were administered to eligible individuals that day in accordance with Missouri’s state vaccination plan. Although the clinic originally posted that only those who had pre-registered would be vaccinated, in early afternoon, an announcement was sent out saying additional vaccinations would be available, first come, first served, to those who were eligible according to the phase/tier system. In response, several Ozark Countians rushed to West Plains to be vaccinated.
Now the state’s interagency vaccine planning team has selected hospitals in nine regions of the state that will be receiving just over half of the state’s weekly vaccine allocation through February. Federal partners are responsible for the state’s total allocation of currently 76,000 doses per week, and the state is responsible for allocating that allotment among providers enrolled as covid-19 vaccinators who are requesting vaccine.
Ozarks Healthcare is a vaccination site serving the Missouri’s Region G, which includes the south-central portion of the state.
Missouri’s vaccination plan designates populations that are currently eligible as Phase 1A and Phase 1B (Tiers 1 and 2) individuals.
Phase 1A includes long-term facility residents and staff, patient-facing healthcare workers, emergency management technicians and paramedics. Phase 1B–Tier 1 includes those who protect and help residents during an emergency, including public health administrators and staff, law enforcement, fire services, corrections, emergency management, public works and emergency services.
Phase 1B–Tier 2 includes those protecting residents who are at increased risk for severe illness, including anyone 65 and older or any adults with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, or individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome.
Those who received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Jan. 29 clinic will receive their second booster vaccination Friday, Feb. 19, at the West Plains Civic Center. Vaccination cards from Friday’s clinic will be required to be presented. Participants may not attend if they are showing any type of covid-19 symptoms. Reminders will be sent to first-dose recipients before Feb. 19.
Ozarks Healthcare is still accepting online submissions for those who wish to receive the vaccine. Based on tier availability and vaccine supply, OH will use completed submission forms to contact those who have registered with further instructions on future vaccination clinics. To sign up, visit https://www.ozarkshealthcare.com/vaccine-sign-up/.
For full phase and tier definitions in Missouri’s state vaccination plan, visit https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/.
Tom Keller, OH president and CEO, said that, since the Jan. 29 clinic, OH has been "in constant communication with state officials to plan for the administration of future vaccines. We are formalizing a plan that will allow Ozarks Healthcare to offer vaccinations to the entire Region G.”
Keller said, “The next amount of vaccines we receive will be . . . proportional by population. State officials will dictate how many doses we receive. There are many logistics that must be taken into consideration while thinking through the logistics of these clinics, including the science of preserving and storing vaccines to ensure their components are activated properly upon injection.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer vaccine may be stored in a refrigerator between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 120 hours (five days) before mixing. Once mixed, the vaccine can be left at room temperature, 35 to 77 degrees F for up to six hours. After six hours, remaining doses of the vaccine should be discarded.
The Moderna vaccine may be stored frozen between -13 to 5 degrees F or refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees F for up to 30 days prior to first use. It cannot be refrozen once thawed. Unpunctured vials may be stored between 46 to 77 degrees F for up to 12 hours but cannot be refrozen. After the first dose has been withdrawn, the vial should be held between 36 and 77 degrees F. Vials should be discarded after six hours.
“Many people do not realize the complexity of preserving both types of the covid-19 vaccine,” said Katie Mahan, director of Ozarks Healthcare’s outpatient pharmacy. “We are proud to say no vaccinations have been thrown out through any vaccine administrations offered through our organization.”