Opinion

Kyle Troutman: Sticking it to COVID

Saturday, January 30, 2021

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost a year ago, local residents have the opportunity to “stick it” to the virus by receiving vaccines.

This week, Barry and Lawrence counties both received batches of inoculations, a first for Lawrence County.

Barry County had received about 130 Moderna doses in the first stage of the state’s vaccine rollout, but Lawrence County did not get any.

Now in Phase 1B, which extends to residents 65-and-older, first responders and even pregnant women, Lawrence County on Wednesday received 200 doses of Moderna, and Barry County on Friday administered just over 100 doses of Pfizer, obtained through a four-county collaboration.

As of Friday, 350,555 Missouri residents had received at least one dose of one of the two vaccines, and 106,885 had received both doses. Moderna requires a second dose after 28 days, and Pfizer, requires a second after 21.

This accounts for 5.7 percent of the state’s population with one dose, and 1.7 percent with both doses.

Missouri’s rollout has been painfully slow. This week, the CDC reported Missouri was dead last in the country when it came to percentage of the population inoculated.

While some states had delivered up to 75 percent of the vaccines they had received, Missouri had yet to even deliver half.

The state has claimed there is a lag in reporting shots being administered, and more than 100,000 vaccines are sitting at long-term care facilities waiting to be given.

We hope the speed and availability of vaccinations both increase in the coming weeks, especially as cases continue to stay level at about 100 active in the county at a time.

Hopefully, as more vaccines are administered, we will start to see a true dip in cases, and a dip in the positive test rate. In October, county officials told me the biggest indicator of COVID in the area is the positive test rate. At the end of October, the rate sat at 7 percent, or about 1 in every 14 people tested.

By the second week of January, the rate had doubled, topping out at 14.61 percent, or 1 in every 7 people tested.

The climb was no real surprise. Following Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it was expected. But now, we have a change to change it.

Side effects of the vaccines reported locally are minimal. There have been no anaphylactic reactions, and the worst things people have experienced seem to be fatigue, slight fever, runny nose and pain at the injection site.

Getting as many people as possible vaccinated could greatly help get us back to a greater sense of normal.

It should be noted that the vaccines are not 100 percent effective. Both Moderna and Pfizer are about 95 percent effective after the second dose, meaning there is still a 5 percent chance a person vaccinated could still catch COVID.

This is why it’s still important to mask, distance, wash hands and take precautionary measures. Over time, as more people are vaccinated and the transmission rate begins to wane, we will have a greater chance at getting a handle on the virus.

When I went to take photos of people getting vaccinated Friday, I was met with enthusiasm.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” one person receiving a dose said.

Let’s hope more and more have the same attitude.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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