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story.lead_photo.caption John Boessen receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Sally Phillips, LPN, as Capital Region Medical Center hosted a vaccination clinic Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, for registered patients at Capital West Christian Church Event Center. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

The Missouri National Guard will host another mass COVID-19 vaccination event in Cole County this month.

The vaccination event is scheduled March 19 at The Linc, 1299 Lafeyette St. in Jefferson City, Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said during the county's weekly COVID-19 update Thursday.

"Because of the new vaccination tier being activated starting March 15, Cole County school staff from both parochial and public schools will be given the first opportunity to fill the slots we have for this March 19 event," Campbell said. "The rest of the slots will be filled by people already eligible who have yet to be vaccinated."

Health officials anticipate 2,000-2,300 people will receive vaccinations during this event. The Pfizer vaccine will be given, with its second dose to be administered April 9.

Registration is available through the Missouri COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator at covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator. The county Health Department will also send a code for educators sign up.

Both Jefferson City hospitals continue to see declines in COVID-19 patients.

Capital Region Medical Center has seen fewer than five COVID-19 patients each day over the last three weeks, CRMC Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Randall Haight said. The hospital had two COVID-19 patients Thursday, neither of whom were in the ICU.

"Capital Region has an eight-county service area, and the rate of positivity over the last 10 days is at 0.6 per 1,000 people in those communities," Haight said.

Although there are now three vaccines available — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — health care professionals advise taking whichever vaccine is available if offered one, Haight said.

"The type of vaccines we get changes from week to week. At each of our institutions, we are given what ever vaccine we are given," Haight said. "We are still working among ourselves to get as much vaccine out to everyone eligible as possible."

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Dr. Lenora Adams, regional vice president of medical affairs for SSM Health, said St. Mary's Hospital, a Catholic institution, has received several questions about ethical and moral concerns regarding the development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"It was developed using a cell line from aborted fetal tissue," Adams said. "A statement from the Archdiocese in St. Louis said if you were not offered any other vaccine, it was acceptable to accept the Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

While not disputing church officials' contention that an abortion-derived cell line is used in the vaccine's production, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement Tuesday stressing there is no fetal tissue in its vaccine, the Associated Press reported.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also issued a statement Tuesday saying the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable "if one has the ability to choose a vaccine."

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City issued a statement Thursday calling on Catholics to protect themselves from the coronavirus "using any vaccine provided by health care officials."

"In the current situation of a pandemic, Catholics may in good conscience utilize any of the vaccines currently available, even those derived in an unethical manner, to protect themselves, as well as to avoid the serious risk to vulnerable persons and to society resulting from remaining unvaccinated," McKnight stated. "If a person concludes he or she cannot be vaccinated, whether for health reasons or if their own moral analysis is different from the Church, they are morally obliged to do everything they can to prevent transmission of the coronavirus and avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated."

Adams noted Thursday that there remains a supply-and-demand issue with COVID-19 vaccine in the region, "so we're not able to offer which vaccine you want to chose from."

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