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Rural EMS, first responders get COVID vaccine in Knox County

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KNOX COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) — Thursday marked day-two of people 65 and older getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Northeast Missouri at Hannibal Regional.

In more rural areas, they're just now getting their first responders and medical staff vaccinated.

First responders at the Knox County Ambulance District said they're now more prepared to keep you, their families, and themselves safe when they head out on a medical call.

They got their vaccines at the health department in Edina, Missouri, this week.

They said it's a critical step in combating the spread of COVID-19

Knox County Amublance district paramedic and co-manager Brian Banks said for both him, and his co-manager, getting the vaccine means a big weight off their shoulders.

"One of the medics, one of us gets sick, we're gonna be down for two to three weeks, so one medic’s gonna have an overload of work because they're gonna work every shift," Banks said.

So now when they're heading out on a call, they hope to be less likely to spread or catch the virus.

Co-mananger Deanna McKenzie said it's also to try and keep her family safe.

"My dad has stage four COPD and my grandson gets croup pretty easy when he gets sick, and I didn't do it for me, I did it for them," McKenzie said.

Knox County Health Department director Lori Moots-Clair said getting the vaccines, McKenzie and Banks got, was difficult, but worth it.

"We took care of 70 individuals [Wednesday] and we're pretty excited about it finally felt like we were able to do something for the county," Moots-Clair said.

She said it took a lot of coordination as they didn't have the facilities to store the vaccine, so it had to go all at once.

"Once we pull it off the ice, we've got six days to give it so it's it's all timing. But, it worked out well yesterday. The weather cooperated and I think we had some happy people here in the county," Moots-Clair said.

She said if you're 65 and older or have a health condition, you can call to get on their list, but she said it's best to check around.

"If you want a vaccine, put your name on any list you can find," Moots-Clair said.

McKenzie said she hopes as many people as possible choose to get the vaccine.

"I wish we could show a video of somebody that has tested positive for COVID that's having a hard time breathing, and I think it would convince them," McKenzie said.

According to the CDC website, experts continue to conduct more studies about the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on severity of illness from COVID-19, as well as its ability to keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Moots-Clair said they're trying to put more orders in for vaccines, and hope to know when they could be getting more in the coming weeks.

She said it's been hard trying to get orders fulfilled, but they're working with other small healthcare organizations to put in a larger order that they can all use at once. However, they're asking for vaccines that larger healthcare organizations are after as well.

"We have been unable to compete in that vaccine market, we've had orders in for weeks, and so, we're trying a different route. We're trying to get with other small tiny [health organizations]," Moots-Clair said, "and as I mentioned, 15 of us went together, [so we] had a larger department order for us."

The number to call at the Knox County Health Department if you want the vaccine is (660) 397-3396.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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