Ozarks Healthcare to support High Throughput Vaccine Distribution in Missouri
Ozarks Healthcare has been selected as one of Missouri’s high-throughput COVID-19 vaccination sites, which will allow the medical system to coordinate with the medical community to provide future vaccination clinics. The announcement comes just after a cooperatively organized mass vaccination clinic hosted last Friday by Ozarks Healthcare, the Missouri National Guard, Howell County Health Department, and City of West Plains. Over 2,800 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were administered to eligible individuals in accordance with Missouri’s state vaccination plan at the clinic.
According to the Missouri Hospital Association and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the state’s interagency vaccine planning team has selected hospitals within nine regions of the state who will be receiving just over half of the state’s weekly vaccine allocation through the month of February. Federal partners are responsible for the state’s total allocation, which is currently approximately 76,000 doses per week, and the state is responsible for determining allocations of that allotment among providers enrolled as COVID-19 vaccinators and requesting vaccine. Ozarks Healthcare is a vaccination site serving the Missouri’s Region G, which includes the south-central portion of the state.
“Since the success of Friday’s mass vaccination clinic, we have been in constant communication with state officials to plan for the administration of future vaccines,” Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO, said. “We are formalizing a plan that will allow Ozarks Healthcare to offer vaccinations to the entire Region G.”
“As with all regional vaccination sites, the next amount of vaccines we receive will be determined to be proportional by population,” Keller said. “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 (CDC), the Pfizer vaccine may be stored in a refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) for up to 120 hours (five days) before mixing. Once mixed, the vaccine can be left at room temperature, 2°C to 25°C, (35°F to 77°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 -25ºC and -15ºC (-13º to 5ºF) or refrigerated between 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F) for up to 30 days prior to first use. It cannot be refrozen once thawed. Unpunctured vials may be stored between 8° to 25°C (46° to 77°F) for up to 12 hours, but cannot be refrozen. After the first dose has been withdrawn, the vial should be held between 2° to 25°C (36° to 77°F). Vials should be discarded after 6 hours and cannot be refrozen.
“Many people do not realize the complexity of preserving both types of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Katie Mahan, Director of Ozarks Healthcare’s Outpatient Pharmacy, said. “Being able to administer doses efficiently while adhering to the state’s priority phases and guidelines for vaccination has always been at the forefront of our planning process for administering vaccines. We are proud to say no vaccinations have been thrown out through any vaccine administrations offered through our organization.”
According to Missouri’s vaccination plan, vaccinations are intended for populations that are eligible as Phase 1A, Phase 1B – Tier 1, and Phase 1B – Tier 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 protecting those who keep us safe and help us 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 those 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 Friday’s clinic will receive their second booster vaccination on Feb. 19 at the West Plains Civic Center. Vaccination cards from Friday’s clinic will be required to be presented. You may not attend if you 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, Ozarks Healthcare will use your completed submission form to contact you 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 accordance with Missouri’s state vaccination plan, visit https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/.
Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing eight primary care and 17 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit www.OzarksHealthcare.com.