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Shelby County looks to future of COVID vaccine efforts with 22% of residents on first dose

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SHELBY COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) -- In Northeast Missouri, Shelby County has been ahead of the game for several weeks now getting the COVID-19 vaccine out.

Shelby County Health Department officials said around 22% of the county's almost 6,000 residents have gotten their first dose.

Thursday, health department works and volunteers working at a clinic in Shelbina, Missouri gave hundreds of people their second doses.

"This is my second shot. Today's process was pretty painless and short," said Mark Twain State Park Ranger Chris Coe.

He was one of the hundreds getting the second dose of the Moderna vaccine in at St. Mary's Catholic Church's Father Buhman Center.

His job as a park ranger is the reason he felt it important to get the vaccine.

"To try to be safe with my job as well their mark twain lake to try to still provide services to the public," said Coe.

Shelby County Health Department administrator Audrey Gough said getting people like Coe vaccinated takes a community effort.

She said they got to the nearly 22% with help from the vaccination efforts of the community, local nursing homes and Hannibal Regional.

"The three [in] combination has made it so that we have a high number of our population already getting their first dose of vaccine," said Gough.

Gough said moving forward, she hopes more and more people know someone who has gotten the vaccine, so more and more people become less apprehensive,

"'I'm too scared of and I'm gonna wait I'm gonna wait'," she said, describing people's concerns, "well, the response has been wonderful. We've been really appreciative of people listening to the science, listening to the medical people and understanding what this means for the future"

Gough said another important aspect of that success is the facility itself, and she said it's thanks to Father Benjamin Nwosu, pastor at St. Mary's, who got his second dose Thursday as well, for letting them use the facilities.

"It went very well, I didn't feel any, you know, any pain in my arm," said Nwosu.

He said he hopes community efforts like these help keep people safe.

"And hopefully, you know, this virus will be over [soon]," said Nwosu.

Gough said that their high percentage does not have to do with their supply of vaccine but rather the low number of people in their county as vaccines are rolled out on the basis of local population size.

She said she's hoping the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which comes in 1-shot instead of 2 like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, will make it easier for busy people to get vaccinated.

Related story:

Vaccine available soon for Missouri educators, child care providers, and critical infrastructure workers

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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