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The numbers of active cases of COVID-19 in Cole County continues to remain low, but local health officials are hoping more people consider getting vaccinated against the virus.

During their weekly COVID update Thursday, Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said the health department reported seven active cases in the county.

At Capital Region Medical Center, Dr. Randall Haight said they had two active patients in the hospital Thursday and have been averaging zero to three over the last six to eight weeks.

Dr. Lenora Adams, at St. Mary's Hospital, said they had four active patients Thursday and were averaging zero to four patients over the last few weeks.

Despite this encouraging news, Haight and Adams said the public should continue to physically distance and wear masks for the protection of others, as the effort to get more people vaccinated continues.

Health officials said people hearing about the health effects others were seeing after getting vaccinated seems to have kept some people from getting the vaccines. With that in mind, Adams said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a side effect reporting app for smartphones. It's called V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker. It collects data, and that data is reported back to local health officials.

"We've been collecting data for about four months on these vaccines, and this is one of the most efficient ways for the CDC to collect data on side effects or anything else you want to report after getting your vaccination," Adams said.

There have been questions about whether COVID vaccines could have an effect on pregnancy, and Dr. John Olson, an OBGYN physician at Capital Region, said the CDC has reported there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. The CDC does not recommend routine pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination. If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Cole County Community COVID vaccination site at Capital Mall had more vaccines than customers the past week, but health officials remain pleased at how the site has operated.

In their first week, Campbell said they gave about 1,600 doses out of 4,000 that they had.

The site is open 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and although they would encourage people to make appointments, the site is taking walk-ins as well.

To make an appointment at the site, visit covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator/ and register through the COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. If you don't have internet or computer access, you can call 1-877-435-8411 to register and schedule an appointment.

Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said they have been talking to people throughout the community and encouraging them to get the vaccines.

"I've been talking to some of the churches I know that are still meeting virtually about getting members vaccinated, and I'm willing to take people myself if they need a way to get there," Bushman said.

"I believe citizens have a role to encourage people to get vaccinated," Tergin said. "I've been glad to see some businesses incentivizing for the employees to get vaccinated, whether it be a monetary incentive or some other form."

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