Marshall, MO. - With the Delta variant of the coronavirus making Missouri a hotspot for Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, especially among those who are unvaccinated, Fitzgibbon Hospital will host a series of walk-in opportunities to receive the Pfizer vaccine beginning Friday, July 23. The vaccine clinic is open to anyone aged 12 and older. The clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the main atrium of the hospital, located at 2305 S. Highway 65 in Marshall. The hospital plans to conduct the clinics for each of the next six consecutive Fridays.
Experts say the current MrNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna are effective in preventing Covid-19 infection via the known variants as well as in reducing the severity of illness and chances of hospitalization.
“With what we are seeing in south and central Missouri, we know it won’t be long before we start seeing positive infections at levels equal to or greater than we saw at the peak of last year,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “Listening to fellow CEO’s of hospitals in the southwest part of the state share their experiences prompted us to do additional outreach about the importance of receiving the vaccine. The CEO’s were literally begging people to get vaccinated ‘while there is still time.’ So we want to remove any barriers to receiving the vaccine by offering these walk-in clinics. Since it’s over the lunch hour, we hope folks will take advantage of this opportunity.”
CEOs from CoxHealth and Mercy Health System in Springfield, as well as the CEO from Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, recently shared staff and patient care experiences with levels of positive Covid patients they had not seen since the peak last fall. What is even more troubling is that these patients are frequently younger, have fewer health conditions and are placed on ventilators much sooner than patients with the original Covid-19 virus, they said.
“What they have also universally stated is that, while they are seeing some individuals who have been vaccinated test positive for the virus, their illness is far milder than those who have not been vaccinated,” said Littrell. “This just underscores the need for everyone to take this seriously. If you've been putting it off or waiting for some reason, now is the time to get your vaccine. Don’t wait. The time is now.”
In Greene County, the home of Springfield, Mo., where the current surge in Covid hospitalizations is occurring due to the Delta variant, the vaccination rate is reported at 34.4percent. Health officials there say the Delta variant is “picking off” unvaccinated individuals and causing severe disease, hospitalizations, treatment with ventilators and deaths. For comparison, Saline County is reporting an even lower vaccination rate at just 33.5percent. This percent is also lower than the state of Missouri average of 39.8 percent. All are significantly lower than the national average vaccination rate of 48 percent.
In addition, the rise in hospital care needed for Delta variant patients is stressing healthcare workers in Springfield, Joplin and the Lake of the Ozarks area, where the number of available registered nurses is inadequate. CoxHealth reported on a recent industry conference call that it planned to open its fifth intensive care unit dedicated to treating Covid patients. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports that in Missouri’s southwest region there were 438 hospitalized patients as of July 11. Of those, 189 patients were in the ICU, leaving a remaining ICU bed capacity of just 19 percent.
“Begging people to take the vaccine while there is still time. If you could see the exhaustion in the eyes of our nurses who keep zipping up body bags, we beg you,” tweeted Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, a six-hospital system based in Springfield.
As summer vacations draw residents of Saline County south to Springfield, Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks for close-to-home getaways, the potential for a substantial spike in positive cases is a concern. Vaccines will help prevent illness or, if you are among the 10 percent of vaccinated individuals who may contract the Covid variant as a “breakthrough” case, your symptoms and disease progression is expected to be far less severe.
Fitzgibbon Hospital will hold the first of six consecutive Friday walk-in vaccination clinics from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 23 in the hospital atrium. In addition, Fitzgibbon Hospital’s affiliated family practice clinics in Marshall, Brunswick, Slater and Fayette are expected to begin accepting walk-in vaccination visits as soon as details and logistics are finalized. To learn more, visit www.fitzgibbon.org/covid19.