INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Jackson County received 975 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in its first shipment which is going to what they call patient facing health care workers. Those vaccinations started Wednesday morning.
It has been a struggle for healthcare workers not affiliated with a hospital system to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but the Jackson County Health Department is filling that hole.
Dr. Matt Niewald owns Lakewood Dental. He has been fighting for he and his staff to be considered front line healthcare workers since the state of Missouri excluded dentistry from the 1-A Tier.
But because Niewald’s practice is located in Lee’s Summit, he and his staff are included in the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines dispensed by the Jackson County Health Department.
“Jackson County has actually done a really good job and moved dentists up to the 1-A category within the county, which is very comforting for us,” Niewald said. “In fact, half of my staff is going to the county today, and the other half will be vaccinated tomorrow.”
Sandra Gholson is a dental hygienist at Lakewood Dental and one of the first to be vaccinated by the Jackson County Health Department.
“I feel better with the vaccine,” Gholson said just a couple of hours after getting her first dose.
Starting the process is a relief for her and her colleagues, who work on unmasked patients for long periods of time. Not only to protect themselves but the patients.
Gholson was also put at ease by the ease of the process.
“We just went through the line and filled out some papers and then we wait like 15 minutes afterwards,” she said. “It just felt like any other shot.” The Jackson County Health Department is inviting anyone who works or lives in Jackson County to sign up for the vaccine on its website.
The online survey asks about employment to determine what tier the applicant should be filed into, which will determine when they will be eligible for the vaccine. Once their tier comes up the health department will send an email with a link to make an appointment.
“We just want to let people know as soon as possible when they’re able to and so this is the best way when we can categorize them so that they don’t have any questions about it,” said Jackson County Health Department Communications Director Kayla Parker. “It just makes it easier for them.”
For people who have signed up for the vaccine in multiple locations, Parker says that is not a problem, as long as when they get their first dose they go back to the same provider for the second one.