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Supplies limit local vaccine rollout

By Mike Genet

While the state of Missouri says it activated the second tier of Phase 1B in its COVID-19 vaccination plan Monday, the Jackson County Health Department says it continues to prioritize the health care workers as listed in Phase 1A of the state’s program, due to limited supply.

“Many of our area residents are ready to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” the department posted Monday on social media. “However, vaccine supply is currently very limited. Healthcare workers remain our number one priority, and many have yet to be vaccinated.”

Phase 1A includes long-term care facility residents and staff, patient-facing health care workers and EMS/EMT workers and paramedics. Last week, the department said it scheduled 2,000 more vaccinations. The week before, all 975 available doses were given out.

The first tier of Phase 1B in the state’s plan includes first responders, emergency services and public health infrastructure. The second tier includes high-risk individuals and people 65 and older.

“Once everyone in Phase 1A has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we will move on to the next phases,” the department posted. “It all depends on the amount of vaccine made available. Vaccine availability needs to drastically improve to ensure access to a large portion of the population.”

The department which covers the county outside Kansas City and Independence. Independence could also participate with vaccinations later in Phase 1B, though residents are eligible to go through the county’s health department. The Jackson County Health Department is using an online survey tool to help scheduled vaccinations as available.

Updated local case numbers and testing data were not available as of noon Tuesday.

According to the Mid-American Regional Council’s dashboard, average new hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the metro area dropped noticeably last week, down to 155 on Friday after 177 and 176 the previous two Fridays.

Available hospital beds in the metro rose from 31 to 34 percent on Friday after dropping the previous week, and the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients dropped one point to 13 percent. Available ICU beds also rose Friday, from 17 to 19 percent, after dropping last week, and COVID-19 patients again accounted for 29 percent of those beds.