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Breaking down what it takes to reschedule a mass vaccination clinic

JOPLIN, Mo. – 71 year old Joplin resident Kurt Zuschek was one of a thousand residents to get their first dose of coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccine clinic at the end of January.

“I was very happy to get my first vaccine,” says Zuschek.

But he has gone from anxiously awaiting his second dose — to frustrated.

“I should be getting my second shot today,” says Zuschek.

That’s not happening because the mass vaccination clinic that would have gotten second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to him and 999 other residents had to be canceled on Wednesday.

He understands why it was canceled, and says he wasn’t surprised. He is surprised, however, to see the mixed messages that he says he’s getting from officials.

“The head of the Joplin Health Department, Ryan, told me that he could not secure a venue and a date until he knew when the replacement vaccines were coming,” says Zuschek. “However, one of the staffers in Governor Parson’s office said that they wouldn’t ship any replacement vaccine until they knew there was a venue and a date secure.”

Joplin Health Department Director Ryan Talken says both are technically true — but it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.

“They’re all dependent on each other, but they’re not necessarily reliant on each other. Just everything has to line up at the same time,” says Talken.

In simplified terms, Talken explains that the heath department has to find a venue and ensure it will be available for a tentative date — as well as make sure the Missouri National Guard and volunteers will be available on that date. All of that has to be aligned before the state will reorder the vaccine shipment.

But, Ryan says they can’t get all of that *set in stone* until they know when the vaccine shipment will be coming.

“Because I don’t want to schedule everybody before I have all of those confirmations. And then that would then trigger another cancelation if one of those were not in place. But, we are confident that it is gonna happen,” says Talken.

Talken says they’ve spent the last two days since the clinic was canceled getting everything *tentatively* set, and have let the state know. Now, they’re waiting for the confirmation that the vaccine has been ordered.

He hopes to hear back from the state next week, then they can get the venue and everything else finalized, as well as call residents like Zuschek to let them know about the new clinic.

“We’re working through it. We’re getting really close to being able to have all of the different pieces in place,” says Talken. “I’m being told that the vaccine will come. So it’s just a matter of getting all of the different components all meshed together.”

Other clinics

Talken also addressed some confusion residents have had about a smaller clinic that was scheduled for Friday, the 19th.

He says the doses of the Moderna vaccine that they are using for the clinic came in before the worst part of the winter weather hit the area. He also says this clinic was set up and handled entirely by the Joplin Health Department — having nothing to do with the National Guard.

He also says that residents who are due a second dose from the mass vaccine clinic that was held of January 29th would not be able to get a vaccine at this clinic, since the doses used at the mass clinic were from Pfizer — not Moderna.

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