Local Vaccine Rollout Ahead of Target Dates

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Stone County’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out has been a team effort resulting in the county being able to advance slightly ahead of the target dates for specific segments of the population.

With the threshold of Phase 1-A met after Tuesday, the county requested approval to move ahead prior to Jan. 18 and was authorized to begin school staff.

After completing the inoculation of about 40 percent of Mountain View School District teachers and staff (110 people) last Thursday morning, pharmacists Eddie Jack Mitchell and Kevin Caldwell remarked on the positive experience so far and urged local residents to be patient as the county advances through phases outlined by the state Department of Health.

Pharmacies were designated by the state to administer the vaccine, but there is little benefit to those businesses for their role.

“It’s God’s work,” Caldwell said, “a service to the community.”

Mitchell agreed, noting that it’s an effort of the entire pharmacy staff.

Caldwell said managing the vaccinations while also conducting their regular business has been a challenge, and he asked that the public be patient as they balance the responsibilities.

Both said that Stone County Medical Center staff and vaccine coordinator Mandy Langston (SCMC pharmacy director) have been instrumental in achieving an efficient roll-out. The medical center coordinated the vaccination of all health care workers as the first step when vaccines became available Dec. 18. SCMC personnel, including fourth-year pharmacy student Malorey Brannon, continue to assist with vaccinations.

Tyler Fowlkes, who is chair of the Stone County Medical Center Advisory Board and whose wife is a pharmacist, said it is his opinion that Stone County has the chance to set the bar for level of vaccinations because of the systems that Langston and pharmacists have put into place, and how they have been working together to get it done.

“It’s very encouraging just the way the vaccine rollout is going,” he said, noting that it is one advantage of having an extensive medical infrastructure along with a relatively low population. “It makes this more feasible.”

“We have a chance to set the bar, and it’s not often that Mountain View can do that.”

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