New rules frustrate local COVID-19 vaccination plans

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Mass vaccination distribution plans St. Joseph health
officials have had in place for years are being frustrated by changes on the
federal and state level.

City Health Director Debra Bradley says St. Joseph drew up
plans shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks with businesses and nonprofit
groups such as churches at the ready to administer shots. Bradley says public
health agencies focused on the use of such “closed pods” with the medical staff
needed to administer shots.

But, the Centers for Disease Control now requires any entity
providing COVID-19 vaccinations to be registered with the state.

“You have to have staff who can administer the vaccine and who
are responsible for the vaccine,” Bradley tells St. Joseph Post. “So, there are
a lot of different pieces that a lot of these places that we had previously
identified as closed pods were not interested in becoming then a provider,
because there were a lot of extra hoops.”

Bradley says the CDC and state now dictate a lot of the
vaccine protocol, cutting local health departments out.

Still, Bradley says the city is working to ensure everyone who
wants a shot will get a shot.

“It will take time,” Bradley says. “I do believe there’s going
to be enough vaccine for anybody who wants one to get one. But it is going to
take some time to roll it out.”

The St. Joseph Health Department Clinic will close for the
rest of the week, beginning tomorrow, so staff can administer the COVID-19
vaccine to those in the Phase 1A category, primarily health care workers.

St. Joseph is scheduled to receive 1,950 doses of the Pfizer
vaccine. Buchanan County will be given 1,000 doses with the remainder of the
vaccine given to eight regional partners. Next to be vaccinated are those in
Phase 1B, which includes first responders and high-risk populations.