“The only thing that protects you is the vaccine,” said Thomas Jackson, MD, medical director of Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, in an interview about COVID-19 vaccinations with Three Rivers Publishing on Friday, February 12. “When your time comes, take it so we can reopen the economy and stop all this suffering.”
Dr. Jackson said all the vaccines, including those currently being administered and the new ones that should be available within the next couple of months, decrease hospitalizations and the death rate associated with the disease.
“The vaccine is so important because its’s basically the only way to protect yourself from (COVID),” Jackson said. “I want people to be aware of this.” Jackson explained, even those who have already been infected with COVID-19 need the vaccine because the medical community believes having contracted the first strain doesn’t provide a person with immunity to some of the emerging variants of the disease now being seen. The vaccine does provide protection against the variants.
Jackson noted that confirming a secondary infection is somewhat difficult, but in confirmed cases of a second round of the illness, people got “extremely sick” and spent extended time in Intensive Care Units in hospitals.
Jackson also addressed concerns of some about the safety of the vaccines because they have been developed so quickly in response to the pandemic. He explained the scientific process and standards involved to develop the vaccine was not changed, it was simply performed more quickly because the government spent a lot of money to make that happen. “We’re not violating any scientific principles,” he said.
He noted the process was one utilized in emergency situations, reporting, in the early 1990s, a similar process had been followed to develop a vaccine for the Ebola virus.
“Doctors have lined up to get this vaccine,” Jackson said. “If physicians are all doing it, that should make people comfortable in receiving it. I’m telling people not to be afraid of this vaccine.”
Jackson noted there is concern because polling shows only 60 to 65 percent of people want to receive the virus, and herd immunity won’t be achieved without 70 to 85 percent of the population being vaccinated against the disease.
The vaccine is helping right now by protecting health care workers and high-risk individuals. It will also benefit those who don’t want to be stuck at home if they are exposed. New Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance states that people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.
Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital is prepared to provide vaccine as soon as supply allows. The hospital is working closely with BJC HealthCare and local and state officials to acquire the vaccine and is optimistic that vaccinations will begin there in the coming weeks.
Members of the community are encouraged to pre-register for the vaccine through the following locations:
• BJC HealthCare (includes Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital)—register at www.bjc.org/vaccine. For those without internet or e-mail access, the following phone number can be used as an alternate: 314-273-1252. Due to high demand, wait times on this line can be lengthy so it is recommended to use the website when possible.
• Franklin County Health Department—register at https://www.franklinmo.org/health
• Crawford County Health Department—call 573-775-2555 press 0 to be connected with an employee.
• Sink’s Pharmacy, which operates Steelville Drug, Towne Pharmacy in Cuba, and numerous other area locations, has begun administering COVID-19 vaccinations in the area. To sign up for future Sink’s Pharmacy vaccination clinics, visit www.sinkspharmacy.com.
• Walmart in Cuba, Salem, Potosi, and Rolla—to check availability and schedule an appointment visit www.walmart.com/COVIDvaccine.
Those who pre-register will be contacted when vaccine is available to them.
Currently the state of Missouri is vaccinating Tiers 1A-1B Tier 2. For more information, including who falls into each tier, please visit: Missouri Department of Public Health: https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/.