Warrensburg Distributes COVID-19 Vaccines at UCM

Written by Matthew Goldsmith and Michael Lewis

Carly Kellogg, registered nurse at Western Missouri Medical Center, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from fellow nurse Ashley Holmberg. Kellogg thinks it’s important for people to take the vaccine when available because of the current supply. “Taking it when it’s available is probably the most important thing you can do right now because the state is allotting it at kind of a random rate,” Kellogg said. (Photo by Skye Melcher)

  As the Warrensburg community continues its vaccination distribution, Western Missouri Medical Center and Johnson County Community Health Services are working with large employers, like the University of Central Missouri, to go on site to administer vaccines to appropriate groups based on tier, in relation to Missouri’s roll out plan. Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccination plan includes three phases with subcategories, called tiers, for each phase.

  Many health care workers, first responders and other health related workers have received their first dose of the vaccine. Now the community is working on vaccinating those over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions. 

  Missouri has been continuing to administer vaccines to healthcare workers who are working with patients and other residents in healthcare facilities throughout the state, which are included within phase 1A of the state’s vaccine strategy.

  Mary Thaut, Administrator at Johnson County Community Health Services, commented on where Warrensburg was in the vaccine rollout process during the online COVID-19 community forum at 11:30 on Feb. 4. 

  “December was when we got our first shipment, we received a little over 900 doses during the first phase,” Thaut said. “We don’t go through the phases till the governor allows us too. We order on a weekly basis, but we are not promised the vaccine.”

  The number of vaccines allotted to Warrensburg distributors are limited, but Thaut detailed the plan for UCM students to receive the vaccine when they became available.

“When they fall into their appropriate tiers, UCM students will get the vaccine,” Thaut said. “Students will not be grouped as one tier. We will go off site to their facilities when that tier becomes available,” Thaut said. ”We have communications with the schools, like UCM, and they have filled out surveys.”

  Some University of Central Missouri students, who are also health care workers, have already received their COVID-19 vaccination. Miranda Lockey, a junior Medical Laboratory Science student who works at the University Health Center, received her first shot on Dec. 29. Lockey detailed her experience before and after the vaccine. 

  “At first, I was kind of nervous because I heard of the potential side effects,” Lockey said. “I had already had COVID-19 in the past, so I still understood the importance of getting the vaccine. After the shot, I felt minor soreness in my arm and a slight headache. This went away after a couple of days; now I don’t notice anything.

  Lockey had some advice for students who are hesitant about the vaccine through her own experience.

  “It is definitely worth it to be vaccinated,” Lockey said. “We would all like to see society return to normal, where masks aren’t worn and businesses are open. Vaccines have always been used to treat diseases, we should continue to trust that.”

  UCM President Roger Best said taking a vaccine isn’t something people should feel forced to do.

  “Whether you receive a vaccine or not is certainly a personal choice, especially a vaccine that’s approved under emergency use authorization, which is where the two vaccines are right now that are out there and a potential third one and fourth one coming up in the next month or so,” Best said.

  However, Best said taking the vaccine can help lead UCM to more normal operations compared to this school year. 

  “Our ability to do what we do and do it best is served better when we don’t have to worry about social distancing and limiting our events and our personal interactions, and at this point, based on the science and the data that I’ve seen, the way that you do that is by ensuring that people are vaccinated,” Best said.

  The University of Central Missouri recently supported the community by hosting a vaccine clinic with Western Missouri Medical Center on Wednesday Feb. 2 at the Multipurpose Building. 261 vaccines were given during the event.

 Ashley Holmberg, a registered nurse at Western Missouri Medical Center, spent the day reconstituting the Pfizer vaccine and making sure nurses had the proper amounts of the vaccine to distribute. She said WMMC was appreciative of UCM for helping put the clinic together, and the patients had a good experience.

  “Most of the people who come through are very grateful. They’re excited to get the vaccine. It’s like a symbol of hope for them, so the atmosphere has been so good,” Holmberg said.

  Holmberg said that it depends on the week for how much of the vaccine they have at a given time to distribute.

  “We don’t know how much we’ll get. We try to order every week to see how much we’ll get, and then we just kind of go off of that. We’re not guaranteed a certain amount every week, so if we have it and we have a clinic, we want people to get out there and get it for sure,” Holmberg said.