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The Jefferson County Health Department is now holding signups for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

To sign up, residents must complete a form, and they will be contacted when they are eligible to be vaccinated.

The Health Department has not received any vaccines, but Jeana Vidacak, public health preparedness coordinator, said the agency hopes to soon receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January or the start of February.

Those interested in signing up for one of the vaccines may do so online at hipaa.jotform.com/210126757688060.

Mercy announced today (Jan. 14) that it has created an online sign-up method to help distribute vaccines to those eligible under the state’s four-phase plan. Anyone seeking the vaccine may visit mercy.net/MOVaccine to see if they are eligible under the current phase and register.

The state currently is in Phase 1A of its distribution plan but announced today it would enter Phase 1B-Tier 1 on Monday (Jan. 18).

“Beginning the activation of Phase 1B is all about saving lives and protecting those most vulnerable to exposure and illness from this virus,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “We are looking forward to increased vaccine supply in the coming weeks as supply is the leading factor that dictates our movement through our plan. The more supply we receive, the quicker we can reach our goal of making vaccines available to every Missourians who wants one.”

Phase 1A includes patient-facing health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents, according to the Health Department.

Mercy Jefferson started vaccinating staff on Dec. 15, and county long-term care facilities are working with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate residents and staff.

Phase is 1B-Tier 1 includes essential workers who work in emergency services and the public health infrastructure.

After that, Phase 1B-Tier 2 will begin and includes people older than 65 years old; and high-risk people between 18 and 64, including those with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, weakened immune systems due to organ transplant, severe obesity (BMI >40), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome.

Next will be Phase 1B-Tier 3, which includes essential workers in education, childcare, communications, information technology, transportation, government, food production and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater treatment and others.

Phase 2 includes populations at increased risk, which includes prisoners and homeless people. The last phase, which is Phase 3, includes all Missouri residents.

On Monday (Jan. 11), the Health Department reported it would work with Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City and Comtrea, which provides health care services around the county, to plan “unified efforts” for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to county residents.

The Health Department announced Tuesday (Jan. 12) that representatives from the agency, along with representatives from the hospital, Comtrea and the county government, would discuss the logistics behind vaccine planning during a Facebook Live session this week, but the date has been changed to Wednesday (Jan. 20). The public may view the video on the Health Department’s Facebook page.

County COVID stats

The Health Department reported 88 new COVID-19 cases today, for a total of 18,952 since the first cases were reported in March.

The county has an estimated 1,000 active cases, the Health Department reported.

Brianne Zwiener, communications specialist with the Health Department, said the Health Department doesn’t follow up with all cases anymore, and the number of active cases is meant to give the public a “general estimate.”

Of the county’s total coronavirus cases, 1,228 have been at long-term care facilities, which includes residents and staff members who live in Jefferson County.

Of the 153 COVID-19 deaths in the county, 64 have been from long-term care facilities, the Health Department reported.

The county remains at the red level on the Health Department’s COVID-19 warning system for the 11th consecutive week.

Red is the highest level on the Health Department’s four-color system and indicates widespread and uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

Health officials urge residents to continue taking preventive steps to limit the spread of the virus, including limiting non-essential travel, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and good hand-washing and staying home when sick.

Meeting

The Health Department Board of Trustees is expected to discuss and possibly vote to extend the county’s current mask order during a meeting scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 21).

It will be a virtual meeting, but residents may view it live on the Health Department’s YouTube channel.

The county’s mask order went into effect Nov. 27 and was extended by the board on Dec. 21 until 5 p.m. Jan. 21.

The order is a joint order with the county government and does not include fines or penalties for those who violate it. The order was put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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