June 19, 2024


Health know-how

With COVID-19 vaccine supplies tight, Truman Medical Centers cancels some appointments

Feb. 1—Truman Medical Centers has the capacity to administer more than 2,500 COVID-19 shots every day, and has appointments scheduled into March.

But sometime Monday afternoon, Truman expects to run out of its allotment and won’t be administering first doses again until late Tuesday or early Wednesday, when another shipment is expected.

People who were set to get their first shot Tuesday will be rescheduled and bound to be frustrated. So is Charlie Shields, Truman Medical’s president and CEO.

“One of the biggest constraints that we have right now is simply the availability of vaccine,” he told Jackson County legislators Monday.

Bridgette Shaffer, director of the Jackson County Health Department, shares the same frustration, she told legislators. Last week, her department received no vaccine for first doses of the two-shot regimen, and she doesn’t expect any this week, either.

“At the pace our community is receiving the vaccine,” according to a post on the department’s Facebook page, “it may be several weeks until adequate supply is available.”

Between Truman, the county’s public hospital, and Shaffer’s department, she said, they have administered half of the doses given out in Jackson County so far in what has been a slow rollout due to supply issues.

Shields said Truman has administered 16,000 shots, 13,000 of them the initial injection. Shaffer said the health department has given 7,500 shots. Both have reserved enough supply in cold storage to guarantee that everyone who got the first shot can get the second one when the time comes.

Both are hopeful that the supply of vaccine will increase in the weeks ahead. Shields said Truman is making a special effort to vaccinate minority communities who may have transportation issues and find it difficult to get to one of the hospital’s vaccination sites or are reluctant to get the shots.

“There’s a high degree of distrust,” Shields said.

Of those who have gotten COVID-19 shots at Truman so far, 10 percent were Black and 4 percent were Hispanic or Latinx. About 23 percent of county residents are Black and 9 percent are Hispanic, according to Census Bureau estimates.

“We have to get vaccination rates up,” Shields said.

To do that, Truman is setting up mobile vaccination sites in areas with high minority populations. Last week shots were given at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, and this week the mobile clinics will be at St. James United Methodist Church and the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter Sr. Community Center.

To boost the trust levels of minorities who are wary of getting the shots, Truman is also doing some marketing. When former Chiefs great Bobby Bell, who is Black, got his shot in January, Truman Medical posted the video on Facebook.

“You gotta get the vaccine,” he said, “because if you don’t get it you’re playing with your life.”

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