The Laclede County Health Department has received numerous inquiries about when the COVID 19 vaccine will be available to county residents. The department released a statement Tuesday that said.

The State of Missouri is currently in Phase 1a of the vaccine distribution. In Phase 1a, those eligible to receive vaccinations are (1) front-facing/direct patient care healthcare providers and (2) long term care facilities (nursing homes, residential care homes).

Once Phase 1a has been completed, the state will move into Phase 1b, adding other healthcare providers and emergency responders. Other phases will follow, adding individuals who are 65 years of age and older, those with chronic health issues, and finally, the general public.

At this time, there is no definite timeline as to when these additional phases will be added. A conference call Tuesday stated that the state would move to new phases as a “whole state,” not regions or individual counties.

Certain healthcare systems/providers and two national pharmacy chains (Walgreens and CVS) have received approval to be vaccine providers at this time. These approved locations must follow strict CDC and state guidelines and cannot move into the next phase on their own. Likewise, many local health departments have been or will be approved to provide the vaccine. At this time, most health departments have not received the vaccine, and it may be several weeks, even months before this occurs. One reason is that local health departments are still heavily involved with the case investigations and contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases.

The Laclede County Health Department is committed to working with local healthcare and pharmacy partners. It will assist these partners with public notifications when it is time to announce vaccines are available to residents in the different phases.