MARSHALL, Mo. — The latest data from the state shows 11% of Missouri residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Saline County, a little more than 70 miles east of Kansas City, nearly 17% of residents have been vaccinated, one of the best rates in Missouri.
Health officials in Saline County have hosted mass vaccination events at Missouri Valley College where at least 5,000 people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I need to protect myself and my family I thought hey it is a wonderful opportunity, so I’m blessed to be able to get my second dose,” said Rev. Mary Williams, a Marshall resident who received the Pfizer vaccine.
Missouri Valley College, Fitzgibbon Hospital, the Saline County Health Department and the Ambulance District work together to host the mass vaccination events. The entities combine resources and doses to make sure everyone who needs a shot can get one when it’s their turn.
To get a shot, people in eligible groups must register and get an appointment before showing up. To communicate with all populations, area health officials used different outlets. Marie Benham heard about the clinic a few different ways.
“Through the TV, then in the newspaper,” Benham said. “I know a lot of people in the area, and they will say, ‘Have you heard that? Have you read that?’”
For many rural communities, storing the vaccine is a challenge. Angy Littrell, CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital, said they recently bought an ultra-cold freezer to store the vaccine doses safely.
“We are in good stead in our community in terms of having the resources to store whatever vaccine is deployed to us so we can have it in our community,” Littrell said.
Saline County is home to a couple of meat packing plants. At one point, it was considered a COVID-19 hot spot. Tara Brewer, administrator at Saline County Health Department, said administering the vaccines to large groups of people is a breath of fresh air.
“I think our low point would’ve been June, and we went down to nine cases then we jumped up to several hundred, so this is closure,” Brewer said. “It’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
This clinic is open to anyone in Missouri that fits the current vaccine phase/tier eligibility, but you must register and make an appointment prior to showing up.