By Nate Blackford, Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville president

Let me start by saying Happy New Year… and goodbye to 2020.

If you are like me, you have exchanged a number of communications with friends and family recently about how glad we are that 2020 is over. The year 2020 was certainly one that will go down in the history books. Although I never like to wish time away, I was happy to turn the calendar on 2020 last week.

Unfortunately, simply turning the calendar didn’t change much. We remain in the middle of a global pandemic. And, if the first few days of January are any indication, we are starting to see another spike in COVID-related hospitalizations. We must continue to remain diligent.

Two weeks ago, we started to rollout the vaccine to our caregivers and other healthcare workers. Since then, we have administered over 2,000 doses of the vaccine throughout Mosaic to caregivers. I am extremely pleased to report that we have seen few side effects or adverse events. The most common side effects have been soreness in the arm where the shot was received and headaches that typically resolve within 24-hours.

The vaccine remains our greatest hope for turning the corner and returning to some semblance of normalcy. The first individual in Maryville to receive the vaccine was Dr. Sally Bomar. On that day, she wore a shirt that said, “Got Polio? Me Neither. Thanks Science.” Her shirt could have easily referenced any number of other conditions where vaccines have made a specific disease virtually non-existent. Bottom line is we have science to thank for vaccines and the resulting elimination of certain illnesses.

I know many have questioned the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccine given it’s accelerated timeline to use. Before recommending the vaccine to our caregivers and receiving the vaccine myself, I did extensive research. My research made me very confident and comfortable with the vaccine. I would encourage you to do the same if you have any questions or concerns. The CDC website is always a good place to start.

One thing I learned was although the approval timeline was certainly compressed, scientists and researchers have been working on the foundational elements of this vaccine for 10-15 years. I don’t have the space to go into all the details but the combination of years of advanced research, new technologies not previously available, a healthy dose of funding, nationally and globally, multiple and simultaneous clinical trials and flexible regulatory bodies all played a role in making the vaccine a reality in a record time.

Now what’s next? As outlined by the State of Missouri, healthcare workers, along with long-term care residents and staff, are in the first group to receive the vaccine. From there, high-risk individuals, first responders and “essential” workers will be in the second group. The third group will consist of those in high-risk populations like prisoners, the homeless, etc. And, finally, the fourth group will be all remaining Missouri residents. On Monday, I was on a call with the governor where it was indicated the first group remains the priority right now but guidance for other populations will be released later in January.

For those of you that would like to reference the latest information available, I recommend you check out This site contains helpful details regarding Missouri’s vaccine rollout plan.

We will do our best to provide timely updates as warranted and let you know when the vaccine is generally available. For the foreseeable future, please continue to wear masks, social distance when possible and practice good hand hygiene. This combination of mitigation practices will continue to be our best defense until we have broad-based vaccine adoption. I know this has been a long journey and just turning the calendar won’t fix it. I know there has been disagreement and tension along the way with no perfect solutions. I know we are tired and ready to be done with COVID. And, thanks to science, and your engagement, we are getting closer.


Happy New Year …. and cheers to a promising, and healthy, 2021!