People across Christian County and the rest of the United States are clamoring for their opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
To date, more than 1,100 Christian County residents have received vaccines directly through the Christian County Health Department, which has operated a vaccination clinic on Thursdays at First Baptist Church in Ozark.
Some first responders received vaccinations through a pop-up clinic in Nixa that the Christian County Emergency Management Agency organized using funding provided to the state of Missouri and Christian County through the federal CARES Act.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services estimates that 6.5 percent of Christian County's population of 88,595 residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In total, an estimated 7,977 doses of vaccine have been administered to Christian County residents, with 5,738 of them documented as "first doses." That means 2,239 Christian County residents have received their second vaccinations.
The 6.5 percent, available for viewing at http://covidvaccine.mo.gov/data, puts Christian County equal to or higher than the vaccination percentages of its surrounding counties. Greene County, with a population of 293,086, is also at 6.5 percent, according to the state health department.
"It would appear that we're doing okay compared to Greene and the others. One thing that comes to mind is that a bedroom community--we have a lot of folks that work in health care," Christian County Director of Planning and Development Todd Wiesehan said.
Second to education, the health care sector is the No. 2 overall employer for Christian County residents. A large percentage of the workers in the Cox Health and Mercy systems have received two rounds of COVID-19 vaccines.
Missouri is in the first of three phases when it comes to distributing vaccines. A warning on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website advises persons who do not fall under Phase 1B-Tier 1 or Phase 1B-Tier 2 eligibility that will need to wait in order to contact an approved vaccinator.
"The state of Missouri is still experiencing an exceptionally limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Before contacting a vaccinator on this map to coordinate your vaccination, please understand that many vaccinators are still awaiting supplies from the federal government," the warning reads.
The registration portal allows state and locally-based entities to collect some general data on the overall interest in vaccination. For the moment, it determines how much the demand exceeds the supply. Wiesehan said the preliminary data also helps entities that are vaccinators.
"I think also for us to share that information with other parties that have vaccination clinic designations, so that's good. The goal is to get as many people vaccinated as we can," Wiesehan said.
In order for people to get vaccinated, they are likely to spend some time on a waiting list before they receive their first shot. There will also be questions about the process of scheduling appointments and receiving vaccines.
"The issue is then, 'How do we communicate all of this to the public?' There are several ways that we are thinking of doing it," Wiesehan said.
Christian County, working through its Emergency Management Agency arm, will likely use the Swift 911 notification system used to share information in emergencies and disasters. There will also be press releases leading to news coverage and social media posts. You might even get something in your mailbox.
"The most effective thing that we're going to try is direct mailing postcards to 36,000 residents," Wiesehan said.
Wiesehan shared a mocked up version of the direct mail piece with the Christian County Commission. The postcard will include a website address and a toll free phone number that persons who lack reliable internet access may call to inquire about vaccines and determine their course of action to get vaccinated.