Local health departments poised for National Guard downsizing

Local health departments poised for National Guard downsizing

Thursday, Governor Mike Parson announced Missouri National Guard members would begin scaling back in coronavirus vaccine support as the demand for vaccines has hit a sharp decline. Mass vaccination clinics are not expected to be scheduled as the vaccine demand has decreased. The draw down of Missouri National Guard members is set to complete June 1.

Parson says the National Guard has administered over 382,000 vaccines during its’ time of support to the state’s vaccination efforts. “We still have the support of Missouri Nation Guard through the month of May and so that’s helpful, however, the demand for the vaccine has dropped off so drastically it just doesn’t make sense to allocate resources from the Missouri National Guard to support those small events,” said Brace.

Health officials say the National Guard was needed during the mass vaccination clinics as the demand was high, now that demand has seen a decline departments say they can staff events themselves. Brace says he agrees with Governor Parson’s decision as it isn’t necessary to have the National Guard’s presence at such small events. He says they’ve had some clinics where less than 5 people showed up to get vaccinated. Sara Humm, spokesperson for the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services department, says it’s focused is on small outreach clinics that can be staffed by the department.

“The Missouri National Guard has been an incredible resource for us over the past several months we just wouldn’t be able to do it without them especially when we were hosting our mass vaccination clinics, but now that we’re seeing decreases in the number of individuals getting vaccinated, we think that it won’t have much of an effect on us at all here in Audrain county. We’ve moved to much smaller vaccination venues and events we’re targeting outreach clinics in some of our communities in Audrain county,” says Craig Brace, administrator and Chief executive officer of Audrain County Health Department. Local health departments say its’ focused on smaller outreach vaccination clinics due to the low demand.

Moving forward Humm says they’ve already started working with other local health partners for future vaccine clinics. Humm says the joint collaboration with other health systems will be beneficial moving forward with the current demand for vaccines. “The National Guard has been a great help for us in those larger clinics that we’ve done such as the Sports Fieldhouse and also at the Columbia Mall when we did our vaccination clinic there. They were great in being very helpful for those events we’re transitioned now to more of doing smaller community clinics and previously we had done a mix of doing larger clinics and smaller clinics but we’re pretty much doing smaller clinics and we have staff to be able to handle that but we certainly appreciate the National Guard’s help when they’ve been able to help us in those larger clinics,” said Humm.

The Columbia/Boone County health department will host a vaccine clinic in partnership with MU Health and Boone Health, Saturday at Derby Ridge Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Moderna vaccine will be provided at the event anyone 18 and older can receive the vaccine. As of Thursday, Audrain County has administered 11,7239 vaccine doses; of that 5,168 Audrain County residents have completed the vaccination process. 20.4% of the county’s population has completed the vaccination process. “We’re also working with our community partners to do some joint clinics, like for example we have one coming up this weekend that is a joint vaccination event with the health department, Boone Health and MU Health Care and so we’re able to work with our partners to help to share resources that way as well,” says Humm.

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