COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance
The State of Missouri is well under way with efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for residents. Providing vaccinations to the public at such a scale during these times is no easy task. I want to first recognize the work of researchers, production facilities, public health officials, and health care providers, all who have worked together to provide such a quick response to the pandemic. In a time of doubt and confusion, we can look upon this effort as a real moment of grace where God’s providence encounters the good and righteous stewards who care for the common good by their dedicated service to public health and well-being.
Our parish has gone through extraordinary measures to continue our mission to evangelize and bring the sacraments to the people in a safe manner. Vigilance and continued health and hygiene practices is as essential now as it ever has been. In the past few weeks we have seen a surge of infections in our area and among our parishioners. Even now there are parishioners who are severely ill from COVID-19 and require our prayers and support. Since the task of vaccination for the protection of the public is going to take some time, all our existing practices will continue regarding symptom monitoring, isolation and quarantine recommendations, mask use, social distancing, limiting of in-person meetings, and general sanitation and cleanliness. We will continue to implement the recommendations of the CDC, the Missouri Department of Health, and the specific decrees of Bishop McKnight in doing our best to keep people healthy. We will work together for as long as it takes, which may be some time, until all who can receive both doses of the vaccine.
The vaccination effort is being directed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Of course one of the biggest factors in the availability of the vaccine is its manufacture and distribution. The time required for providing enough vaccine for all makes it necessary to prioritize vaccinations. Vaccinations will be provided in phases with different tiers corresponding to categories of persons with different vulnerabilities and those whose occupations are important to public good. The above chart illustrates how the vaccination rollout carefully navigates availability, need and necessity. This chart is a wonderful tool to allow us to reflect on the different roles and responsibilities in our society, stirring us to compassion and care, especially for the most vulnerable and those who put themselves at risk in their occupations. Check out the Missouri Department of Health’s vaccination website for full information: https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/
Lake Regional Hospital and the Miller County Health Department are working through Phase 1A and are engaging in Phase 1B in our area. The next step is for high risk individuals, primarily those 65 years and older or those with significant health issues, to be vaccinated. At this time, vaccines for all in the secondary tiers are not available, but the vaccinating entities are preparing for the next step.
There are several ways you can get in line to be vaccinated. The first would be to talk to your physician or health care provider to make sure that it is appropriate for you to be vaccinated. While the vaccine has shown to be quite effective and safe, as with any vaccine, there are conditions that might indicate the contrary. Your health care provider can assist you in getting on the waiting list. For our area, Lake Regional has an online form to put you on the waiting list: https://www.lakeregional.com/health-resources/covid-19/covid-19-vaccination/ If you do not have internet access you can call 573.348.7444 to get personal assistance in getting on the list. The Miller Country Department of Health also has an online form: http://www.millercountyhealth.com/covid-19-dashboard .
Local veterans are a class of persons who have a direct avenue for vaccination from the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia. If you are a veteran and have not been yet been contacted by VA personnel, you can call the VA hospital in Columbia at 573-814-6000 and ask the operator to connect you to the department that is handling the COVID vaccine.
The Social Concerns Commission is gathering its resources to assist in getting folks vaccinated. If you need assistance in getting on the waiting list, please contact the parish office. We will connect you with experienced health care workers who can assist you in reserving a spot. There are several retired nurses in the parish who are current in their certifications and will be glad to answer your questions about the vaccine. Additionally, we will provide transportation assistance for the two times when you eventually get your shots. If you would be able to assist in providing transportation or have health care expertise you can share, please contact the parish office so we know who is available to help. Support and guidance will be important for all of us since the vaccination program requires so much time and two doses to achieve maximum efficacy.
We must all continue to pray for guidance and assistance at this time. We pray for souls of the many thousands who have lost their lives in this pandemic. We ask God to heal those who are suffering from the illness. We ask God to protect those who are care-givers and those who work in health care. We ask God to comfort all those who are experiencing isolation and loneliness during this crisis. We ask God to inspire us all to reach out to those who need our assistance, especially those who are un-employed because of the pandemic. And we ask God to give us all greater patience, compassion, and fortitude needed to be the merciful face of Christ to all.