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story.lead_photo.caption Last week, the Community Health Center of Central Missouri received a new mobile unit that can be used for COVID testing and vaccinations. The unit has two fully equipped exam rooms. Photo by Submitted photo

Local health care providers welcomed the news from the state Thursday that Missouri will move into the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations next week.

Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said during a media briefing Thursday her department has received more than 4,000 responses to the survey on its website for people who want vaccinations.

The survey is still available at colehealth.org.

"We'll be keeping a list, so when it gets to their turn we will help them to schedule an appointment," Campbell said. "What we've seen is encouraging and overwhelming."

Dr. Randall Haight, of Capital Region Health Center, said Thursday their staff and other area hospitals have been meeting to discuss the vaccination process for the last two months.

"When we started with our health care workers, the goal was to vaccinate as many as possible; and to do that we've been redistributing vaccine as much as possible among our facilities," Haight said. "Now we'll focus on high-risk individuals and those 65 and older, so we're asking the public to contact their primary care providers (PCP) about getting the vaccine, and if they don't have a PCP, then feel free to reach out to the various health institutions in our area and they'll help you get set up and put on a list."

The Cole County Health Department can help residents who don't have a PCP get in contact with one, Haight and Campbell said.

"Please remember there is still a limited supply of vaccines and of the number of people who can give the vaccine right now," Haight said. "We will be ramping up those numbers over the next one to two weeks, so please be patient as we go through the process."

Community Health Center of Central Missouri received its mobile COVID-19 testing unit last week, Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Crystal Sullivan announced Thursday. The Cole County Commission last month approved $328,893 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for the 37-foot mobile testing trailer for COVID-19 testing, which could also be used for vaccine distribution.

"We know we will have some barriers to get the vaccine out, and we hope the unit will be able to help get through those," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said she isn't sure how soon the unit will be ready for use, but it will be as soon as possible.

A free community COVID-19 testing event is planned 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday at American Legion Post 5, 1423 Tanner Bridge Road in Jefferson City. Any Missouri resident may receive a test, but people need to pre-register at health.mo.gov.

COVID-19 supply boxes on the way

The 35,000 boxes of COVID-19 supply boxes Cole County purchased for residents with CARES Act money should start arriving late next week, Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said Thursday.

Bushman said he had talked with officials at Missouri Medical Supply, based in Maryland Heights, multiple times for updates on the order, and company officials said key employees contracting COVID-19 delayed their shipping process.

"Anything that those affected employees had been in contact with had to be destroyed, so that set them way back," Bushman said.

The boxes will contain 50 surgical masks as well as hand sanitizer and written materials about COVID-19 precautions. The county paid $318,255 for the supplies and shipping costs.

"I know we have had some people say they wouldn't want these, but we've also had other counties reach out ask asking for any extra that we may have," Bushman said. "So if you don't want the box, bring them to the Health Department on West Truman Boulevard or any county office. We can redistribute them to places such as hospitals and clinics."

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