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With more people getting vaccinated, local health officials report the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to decrease.

During the weekly COVID-19 briefing, Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said they are averaging less that 10 positive cases a week. They had two positive cases reported over the weekend and two cases reported Tuesday.

Campbell said Capital Region Medical Center and St. Mary's Hospital are also continuing to see low or no admissions for COVID-19.

"Most of last week, we had zero or one patient with a positive case of COVID," said Dr. Randall Haight, of Capital Region Medical Center. "What is exciting to see is when you look across the state, the number of people 65 and older who have received a vaccine is well over 60 percent."

St. Mary's officials said they had four COVID-19 patients in their facility as of Wednesday.

"These numbers are a testament to the community adhering to the recommendations that have been put forth by local doctors and their seeking to get those vaccinations," Campbell added.

With Easter coming up this weekend, residents are being asked to have gatherings outside as much as possible and to continue to avoid having large indoor gatherings, Campbell said.

Starting April 9, all Missouri residents will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Keep in mind those who are 16 years old or older can get the Pfizer vaccine," Haight said. "For the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, those 18 years old or older would be able to get those vaccines."

Haight said vaccine studies are being done for those younger than 16-18 and they hope results of those tests will come out soon.

Pfizer officials said in a news release Wednesday their vaccine was 100 percent effective against COVID-19 in children ages 12-15. Campbell said they would have to get approval from federal and state health officials before local health officials could administer the vaccine to youth.

On Tuesday, the Cole County Commission signed an agreement with Capital Region, St. Mary's, Community Health Center of Central Missouri and Jefferson City Medical Group to staff a joint vaccination clinic at the old Party City location in Capital Mall.

According to the agreement, the parties will provide personnel to the central vaccination site for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines from early April through July 30.

"We'll have 4,000 doses a week to start, but we'll try to get as much vaccine into arms as fast as we can so we can get herd immunity as soon as we can," Haight said.

By definition, herd immunity or community immunity, is when a large part of the population of an area is immune to a specific disease. If enough people are resistant to the cause of the disease, such as a virus or bacteria, it has nowhere to go.

To sign up for a vaccination, visit the state's vaccine navigator website at covidvaccine.mo.gov. Those who don't have internet access can call 877-435-8411.

"The website shows how you can get free transportation to a vaccine site, and if you call the hotline, you can tell them you need transportation and help, and they'll get you set up," Campbell said. "As we get our site at the mall set up, we hope to work with churches to coordinate events to get residents to the site.

"Mobile units are still available through Cole County EMS and the Community Health Center if we need to do remote vaccine events to vaccinate homebound persons. Please don't feel you can't get a vaccination because of transportation barriers," she said.

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