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Health officials urge patients to get vaccinated, plus younger patients may be able to be vaccinated

JOPLIN, MO – Local health officials are hoping to see more patients getting proactive in the fight against COVID-19.

Freeman Health System has 57 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

It’s a total that matches some of the highest numbers they’ve seen in the hospital during the pandemic.

“Go from no COVID units up to now recently three COVID units, about 20% of our beds are, are now being utilized, almost exclusively for COVID care.” Says Dr. Rob McNab, Freeman COVID-19 Svcs.

And the average age of those patients is dropping.

“Two-thirds of all the inpatients are in their middle 60s and younger than that and that is a very different population than what we’ve really been experiencing for the past year and a half, it’s a much younger, much healthier population that are now getting much sicker.” Dr. McNab says.

They’re urging more patients to get vaccinated, adding that children ages 6 to 11 may be eligible to get the shot as early as September.

That would still be after the return to school, which may see some pandemic protocols reinstated.

“A lot of schools will be requiring masks during the school day, which I personally think is a very good idea. It’s just a protection for the children in that environment where it’s a little more difficult for them to maintain appropriate distances.” Says Paula Baker, Freeman Pres.

They are emphasizing that the vaccine is a tool they didn’t have last year, adding the goal is still to achieve herd immunity.

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