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This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to the health and safety of our community.

With Cole County's first public COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned next week, local health officials continue to ask residents for patience as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines proceeds.

An appointment-only vaccination event will be Feb. 5 at The Linc, 1299 Lafayette St. in Jefferson City. Those who receive the first dose of vaccine that day will receive their second dose Feb. 26. This clinic will be held inside the facility.

Multiple local organizations are partnering with the Missouri National Guard to bring this event together.

"Staff from Central Bank Companies will be calling residents who are 65 and older who have previously registered on the Cole County Health Department survey to schedule an appointment for next Friday's event," Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said. "It is estimated we will be able to vaccinate approximately 2,000 people during this event."

Vaccinations at next week's clinic will be given to people among the 6,000 Cole County residents who have already signed up with the Health Department for information about COVID-19 vaccines. This clinic will target county residents who are 65 and older or who are considered at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

"It will be similar to what other health organizations have been doing at their clinics," Campbell said. "There will be several rows of chairs spread 6 feet apart. Participants check in and then go sit down. Someone comes to them with a cart, talks with them and checks their paperwork, then gives the shot. The participants sit there for 15 minutes to make sure there is no reaction, and if not, they can leave."

More such events will happen, Campbell said, and the Health Department is still asking residents to register for a vaccination with their primary health care provider — the Health Department will assist those who don't have a primary care provider.

"Please be on time, and we ask that you don't bring anyone else with you," Campbell said. "The appointment is only for those that make the appointment."

Capital Region Medical Center's Dr. Randall Haight reported during Thursday's Cole County COVID-19 briefing that the Jefferson City hospital started appointment- only vaccination clinics last week for people in the high-risk category. With another such event planned today, CRMC will have vaccinated approximately 2,700 patients so far.

"We are still working with our local health care partners to move vaccine around to each other so we get it out to as many people as possible," Haight said. "We continue to go through lists of people who call us, and as we have vaccine available, we will have additional people vaccinated."

St. Mary's Hospital's Dr. Lenora Adams said they are rolling out the vaccine at their outpatient clinics.

"If you have fought the fight against a COVID infection and won, you still can benefit from the vaccine," Adams said. "So you should still get on a wait list and plan to be vaccinated in the future."

Ron Rockwood, Jefferson City Medical Group director of medical services and population health, said that as of last Saturday, JCMG has vaccinated 750 patients in its first week of COVID-19 vaccinations, and will have vaccinated over 1000 additional patients this week by the end of Saturday.

"We do ask those with an appointment to not arrive too early because it can get congested," Rockwood said. "We ask that you get there no more than 15 minutes ahead of your appointment. Even after you get your vaccination, we still encourage people to social distance, wear masks when they can't social distance and practice good hand hygiene."

Dr. Crystal Sullivan, of Community Health Center of Central Missouri, said the center is holding a vaccination clinic today for its patients who qualify and is continuing to work with other agencies about getting vaccine to qualifying patients who can't go to clinics.

Community Health Center is also helping to host another free community COVID-19 testing event 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 3 at American Legion Post 5 in Jefferson City.

"We do recommend you register in advance for that and to do that by going to health.mo.gov/community test," Sullivan said.

Campbell noted COVID-19 vaccine supplies are still low, and all of these events are by appointment-only.

"Contact your health provider and the organization they are affiliated with to make sure you have an appointment before you come to any of these events," Campbell said. "Pre-planning is crucial with this vaccine. Once it is ready to be given, we only have a certain amount of hours that we can administer it. If you are scheduled for an appointment, make sure you come."

Cole County residents who want to schedule a vaccination appointment can call the Cole County Health Department at 573-636-2181 if they do not have a primary care physician. The department's webpage will be updated so people will be able to sign up for appointments online, but the technology isn't in place yet, Campbell said.

Campbell said Thursday that Cole County continues to see a decrease in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Cole County Health Department had reported a total of 7,647 confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents since the start of the pandemic, as of Thursday. A total of 97 people, 44 of whom were residents of long-term care facilities, have died from the illness.

The county's number of new cases per 100,000 of population was 121 on Thursday, down 17 percent from the previous seven days, and seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate was 7.8 percent, down 3.6 percent from the previous seven days, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

This article was edited at 6:38 a.m. on Jan. 29 to clarify vaccination figures for JCMG

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