Mueller Updates Board Of Aldermen On Vaccine Distribution

By ERIC X. VICCARO

eviccaro@stegenherald.com

City of Ste. Genevieve clerk Pam Meyer invited Ste. Genevieve County Health Department administrator Jennifer Mueller to appear before the board of aldermen.

Mueller met with both city leaders and elected officials during last Thursday’s regularly scheduled session — her first appearance in her new capacity.

“We finally have some of the vaccine,” Mueller said during the city’s regular bi-monthly discussions regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In a joint effort of Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) and the health department, 900 shots of Moderna vaccine have been administered in the past two days at the Progress Sports Complex.

Mueller said the department promoted having the vaccine on its Facebook page as well as through “word of mouth.”

She urged everyone to keep calling the health department to make an appointment for the vaccine.

“Call us every day, if that’s what you need to do,” Mueller said.

Slots for this week’s vaccination sessions filled up in 83 minutes, according to information gleaned from SGCMH.

The county health department’s Facebook page also has been promoting nearby vaccine centers and providing links for local residents to get onto waiting lists.

The health department reports vaccines are available for those in Phases 1A and 1B.

Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler reported he planned on driving to Cape Girardeau for a vaccine this past Friday.

City leaders also cleared up some misinformation that the state of Missouri has been lagging behind obtaining the vaccine — which simply isn’t the case.

Mueller said 200 second doses had been administered to health professionals at the hospital.

“They have gone through the complete cycle,” she noted.

Alderman asked a few questions about the vaccine, including its effectiveness. Ward 2 Alderman Michael “Buck” Jokerst asked about peoples’ reactions to it.

Many people have complained of a sore arm after receiving the first dose, with few others having a some body aches and a minor fever.

The vaccine is roughly 50 percent effective after the first dose and 95 percent after the second, Mueller noted.

“The health department and hospital are doing their best to get vaccines out to the public,” Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch said in a Friday afternoon interview with the Herald.

Hospital chief executive officer Steve Pautler, who was hired to the position last summer, echoed Welch’s sentiments during the aldermanic work session.

“The county health department has been an outstanding partner with us, and we are making it work,” Pautler said.

Revisiting the most important phases, Phase 1A encompasses all patient-facing healthcare personnel, congregate care facility staff and residents, EMS and high-risk non-congregate health providers, vaccinator staff and those administering COVID-19 testing.

There are three tiers in Phase 1B, with the top subsection for first responders, emergency services, emergency management and public works and non patient-facing public health personnel.

Tier No. 2 will include anyone 65 years of age and older and adults with certain health conditions, and the third subsection for what’s termed critical infrastructure. Additional information can be gleaned at: covidvaccine.mo.gov.

Mueller made it clear Ste. Genevieve will only receive the Moderna vaccine —which has more manageable minimum order amounts according to several health journals — shipped in 10-dose vials. Orders contain both doses for the person receiving the vaccine, she said.

Mueller said a person who receives a first dose will receive the second exactly four weeks later.

In the region, the St. Francois Vaccine Coalition partnered with the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri State Department of Health and Senior Services for a mass vaccination clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Farmington Civic Center.

Follow SGCMH and the health department on the web and through Facebook for additional registration dates. For information, call 1-573-883-7746.

ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT

Welch noted several items during his administrator’s report, including completion of the retaining wall near the intersection of Washington and Fifth Streets. A fence was recently constructed, reportedly at a neighbor’s expense, to complete the project.

Employee performance reviews were expected to be completed by Monday, Feb. 1. The city will be starting health insurance employee premium portions starting in March for those who have dependents, a spouse or family coverage.

Sikich, LLP, an accounting firm out of St. Louis, is putting the final touches on the city audit. Expect the audit report to become an agenda item at some point in February, Welch noted.

There were a couple of sewer back-ups (one near Parkwood and Pointe Basse, and the other at the intersection of Market and 10th). The city submitted claims for the back-ups, and one already has been denied.

Welch said Alliance Water Resources performs regular cleaning of sewer lines and maintains paperwork of scheduled service — which, in turn, reduces the city’s liability.

Minor changes have been made to preliminary plans for the Phase One remodel of the police department and city hall. Welch said he hopes to have final plans, and go out for bids thereafter.

ACTION ITEMS

During the consent agenda, city leaders unanimously approved (7-0; Ward 1 Alderman Gary Smith was not present) the Ste. Genevieve street department to apply for a $2,700 grant from the Ste. Genevieve County Community Development Fund for two automated external defibrillators and two sets of child pads.

One defibrillator will be housed in the street department’s office on Market Street, with the other unit portable on one of the city’s work trucks for emergency use at a job site. The city already has one unit inside City Hall.

• Other approved consent agenda items included appointing Amie Dobbs for a full term on the Ste. Genevieve Parks and Recreation board, and allowing for the disposal of some city records to be destroyed in compliance with guidelines set by the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

Dobbs also has filed election paperwork to run for alderperson in Ward 1, versus Susie Johnson (who attended the board meeting via the Zoom teleconferencing application).