By Allen Edmonds
HARRISONVILLE – Gov. Mike Parson’s COVID team announced Thursday the activation of another tier of the state’s vaccination plan beginning Monday, but Cass County officials have heard nothing about when the vaccine will arrive or where it is coming from.
Cass County Health Director Andrew Warlen conducted a periodic briefing Thursday afternoon with county and city leaders virtually. In attendance were North Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson, Belton Mayor Jeff Davis, Belton Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Todd Crass, Cass Regional Medical Center CEO Chris Lang, Belton Police Chief and Emergency Management Director Jim Person, Cass Regional Epidemiolgist Kevin Latinus, M.D., and Health Educator Sarah Czech.
Though county and hospital officials have been working for several weeks to vaccinate health care workers and long-term care residents and, (Phase 1A categories) Parson’s team Thursday announced a move effective Monday into Phase 1B, Tier 2, which includes any adult individual age 65 or over, and adults with comorbidities, such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, heart conditions, a weakend immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
First responders, some of whom in Cass County have already received the vaccine, are in Phase 1B, Tier 1, which officially opened on Thursday, according to Parson’s office.
Warlen told officials Thursday afternoon that, though he is still waiting on specific direction from the state, he anticipates the vaccination process will be in a drive-through format.
“We’ll be doing the registration all online, and trying to move people thorugh in a safe way, and as quickly as possible,” Warlen said.
“One of the things we’ve been pretty concerned about is mingling of people. The public health message we’ve been giving since this thing began is that we don’t want people gathering in large groups. We want to keep them separate and get them back on their way as quickly as possible.
Warlen said nearly 11,000 county residents have completed the online survey that became available last week at https://casscounty.com/2462/COVID-19-Vaccine.
“And I think all 11,000 have called our office to check the status of the vaccine,” he joked. “We just tell them that we have their information and we will contact them,” when vaccine for their category or “tier” becomes available.
Latinus asked how registration would be handled for, particularly, older patients who either do not have Internet access or are unfamiliar with the online survey process.
Warlen said registration would still be online, but health department personnel would complete the information over the phone with any individual who could not do the online process themselves.
“They’ll just need to call us and we’ll work with them,” Warlen said.
The Health Department can be reached at (816) 380-8425 between 8 a.m. and noon and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Warlen said he anticipates working with both the cities and the school districts in locating physical locations for the outdoor process.
He also said that the process would include a waiting period following the vaccination to assure there was no physical reaction, and plans were being built in to accommodate that.
Person told the Belton City Council during its Tuesday virtual meeting that he had taken the vaccine himself and had experienced no ill effects.
“Not even any arm soreness,” he said. “It really wasn’t any different than the flu shot you get every year.”
Person said he had heard of no issues from any of the first responders that had received the vaccine.
He told the council that after Belton Regional Medical Center personnel had all been given the vaccine, there was some left over, so first-responders had been invited.