Schneck closing COVID-19 vaccine clinic Thursday

Since the COVID-19 vaccine clinic opened in January on the third floor of the Schneck Professional Building in Seymour, more than 17,000 shots have been administered.

In Jackson County, more than 17,600 people are fully vaccinated, more than 17,000 have received their first of two doses and the vaccination rate is 47%, Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of Schneck Medical Center, said during the Seymour hospital’s board of trustees meeting Monday night.

Volume has decreased to the point that Schneck has decided to phase out the clinic. The last day will be Thursday to complete scheduled second doses, said Stephanie Furlow, director of marketing and public relations for Schneck.

The vaccine, however, will still be readily available, including at the Jackson County Health Department, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, First Care Urgent Care, Walmart and JayC Plus Food Store, all in Seymour. The health department also is offering a vaccine clinic July 29 to 31 at the Jackson County Fair.

Schneck is moving its focus to community outreach opportunities with vaccine clinics at local schools, industries and other locations, and many primary care doctors are offering the vaccine in their offices.

On July 10, Schneck’s outreach to the local Chuj population resulted in 260 people being vaccinated, said Susan Zabor, vice president of clinical and provider management and chief quality officer for Schneck. The second dose will be administered July 31.

Also, 24 people were vaccinated during a clinic Saturday at Seymour High School, and another clinic is set for 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Brownstown Central High School.

“Continuing to do outreach with schools and with our industries,” Zabor said. “Any time we can notch onto that, we are definitely working hard to.”

Fish encourages people to get vaccinated primarily because of the nationwide surge of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible and people get more sick compared to earlier strains, particularly among the unvaccinated population.

“We have seen an increase in our usage of the monoclonal antibody therapy, and so we remain to be diligent that this is still going on,” Fish said.

The strain originated from India, has been dominant in the United Kingdom in terms of infection rates and has started to become significant in the United States.

“Early last week, Missouri, their ICUs were full in a number of hospitals,” Fish said. “This is really becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. It’s not that vaccinated patients aren’t showing up positive, but they are certainly not getting sick like our unvaccinated population. You’re seeing much younger patients that are getting sick that aren’t vaccinated, so we continue to encourage vaccinations.”

Entry screenings to resume

Also during Monday night’s board meeting, Kathy Covert, vice president of workforce and support services, said Schneck will recommence screening at the entrances to all of its facilities.

That comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued emergency temporary standards as part of its National Emphasis Programs on COVID-19.

Those are intended to protect health care workers, who are most likely to become infected with COVID through the course of their work.

“Since the pandemic began, our focus has always been on team member safety, and we obviously have very low workplace exposure rates and those sorts of things because we really did commit to keeping our folks safe, and we have been very successful in doing that,” Covert said.

“OSHA, on the other hand, has been widely criticized for their response to the pandemic for not being more proactive in their response in passing regulations to protect workers from COVID,” she said. “Because of that criticism, they have now developed these emergency temporary standards, which are several rules and regulations that are designed specifically for health care workers.”

Upon entry, patients, visitors, vendors, contractors and delivery people will be asked a series of screening questions that are similar to the ones Schneck asked in the past throughout the pandemic.

“Based upon their answer, we will direct them to next steps,” Covert said. “Visitors who answer any of the questions in the affirmative — so answer yes — will not be permitted to enter.”

While the screenings were discontinued in recent months when vaccination rates increased and positivity rates decreased, Schneck still has required face masks to be worn inside its facilities. Covert said that will continue, and there also will be some new requirements for staff members.

“The emergency temporary standard draws a very clear line between what vaccinated team members can do or not do versus unvaccinated team members, so there is a lot of work going on right now by a lot of individuals in this organization to make sure that we are in compliance with these federal regulations,” she said.

Restarting the screenings feels like a step backwards, Covert said, but Schneck asks for the public to be patient and understanding because this is being done to ensure it’s in compliance with OSHA standards.

“They are not Schneck-developed guidelines, but certainly we will follow any federal regulation that is put in front of us,” she said.

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Schneck Medical Center is conducting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Brownstown for ages 12 and up.

It’s set for 9 to 11 a.m. July 24 in the gymnasium lobby at Brownstown Central High School, 500 N. Elm St.

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered that day, and the second dose will be given Aug. 14 at the same location.

Those under 18 should be accompanied by an adult family member or guardian, as consent is required. Bring a photo identification and insurance card (if you have them available).

The vaccine is not required for Brownstown students in the 2021-22 school year, but fully vaccinated students will not have to quarantine if exposed and will be able to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.

Information: 812-524-4266