By Barry Dalton
Licensed Practical Nurse Jenny Pursifull and Family Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Crews, of Boone Medical Group Mexico, received their first Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine injections on Friday, Dec. 18, at Boone Hospital in Columbia.
The first phase of the vaccines are going to frontline healthcare workers and nursing homes. Boone, which has offices throughout mid Missouri, began administering the vaccine to frontline healthcare workers on Dec. 17. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second injection in three weeks.
The first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Audrain County this week. Long-term care facility residents and county workers are receiving the vaccine at the same time. The vaccine companies have contracted with CVS, WalGreens and Good Neighbor Pharmacies to assist with free vaccinations.
ACHD Medical Director Simon McKeown, MD, one of the first in the county to get the vaccine when it was made available to them Dec. 14, said he was very happy to be one of the first to receive the vaccine through his employer, SSM-Audrain.
“As the medical director of the SSM walk-in Urgent Care clinic here in town, I encounter COVID-positive patients daily,” McKeown said. “Today is my 144th shift at work since the pandemic began; this clinic has diagnosed and treated 176 COVID-positive patients to date. I received the vaccine with confidence, having read and understood the literature.”
The vaccines are expected to be available to the general public in Phase III of the Vaccination Plan from the state in late spring to early summer.
Missouri has had three confirmed COVID-related healthcare worker deaths, according to the “Lost on the Frontline” project. Nationwide, the project has confirmed COVID-related deaths of 103 nurses, 40 physicians, 25 first responders, 20 administrators, 18 technologists, 12 social workers, 11 diagnostic clinicians, six cleaners, five food service workers, four security staff, one pharmacist, one coroner, and 56 medical support personnel. Nearly 1,500 cases are still under investigation.
According to the National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country, nursing homes are experiencing a record-breaking number of cases and deaths.
“Even with a vaccine on its way, it will likely take months to fully vaccinate our residents and staff, as well as the remaining public,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the center. “Facilities will not be able to return to normal for some time, meaning providers need ongoing support with PPE, testing and staffing.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that Moderna’s vaccine, which is 94 percent effective, will begin use “by the very early part of next week.”
Recent surveys show that a quarter of the public remains pessimistic about the vaccine. To boost public confidence, Mike Pence and Joe Biden, as well as Surgeon General Jerome Adams, received injections publicly.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that another 237,000 people nationwide could die of COVID-related complications in the next three months.