SoutheastHEALTH is set to begin implementation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program established by the Missouri Department of Health, following final Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration last week.
Vaccinations will begin this week for SoutheastHEALTH employees. SoutheastHEALTH expects to initially receive 2,925 doses of the Pfizer brand vaccine, which is a two-dose series given 21 days apart.
SoutheastHEALTH Vice President and Chief Medical Office Matt Janzow, MD, said SoutheastHEALTH was chosen as a pre-positioning site for the vaccine because of the wide geographic area Southeast serves, its central location in southeast Missouri and “our ongoing commitment to the good health of our community. We are honored to be a part of this historic development in the fight against COVID-19.”
Southeast Hospital also has the ultra-cold storage units required for the Pfizer vaccine. Its lab has, and continues, to play a major role in the COVID-19 testing process. SoutheastHEALTH’s lab was the first in the region to obtain advanced testing capabilities for COVID-19, due to its expansive outreach lab footprint that currently serves over 680 clients in 10 states across the southeast region of the U.S.
Janzow noted that four other hospitals in Missouri – Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis, Mercy in Springfield, SSM St. Mary’s in Jefferson City and Truman in Kansas City – were also named pre-positioning sites.
Due to the initial, limited supply of the vaccine available this week, the first group to receive the vaccine will be SoutheastHEALTH employees, both in Cape County and the Region. “It’s critical that we lessen the stress on our staff caring for both COVID-19 patients and general medical/surgery patients,” he said. “These healthcare workers have demonstrated a commitment to provide care under extremely challenging circumstances. This is a vital first step to protecting those delivering critical care to our most vulnerable.” He added that the vaccine is not mandatory for SoutheastHEALTH employees.
Janzow noted that he has reached out to the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, area hospitals and long-term care facilities in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Dexter, Sikeston and Perryville regarding coordinating vaccination efforts for their staff. Once healthcare workers have been vaccinated, Southeast will begin collaborating efforts to offer vaccinations for high risk populations.
As vaccine availability expands in the following weeks, Janzow said SoutheastHEALTH will strategically target vaccination efforts with a phased approach as set forth by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Immunizations. It is as follows:
- Phase one – healthcare workers, essential workers, high risk populations
- Phase two – Phase one populations, all Missouri residents as availability of vaccine increases.
- Phase three – All Missouri residents.