KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A vaccine clinic in the Northland has administered more than 30,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Operation Safe is a partnership between the Clay County Public Health Center, Liberty and North Kansas City hospitals and Cerner.
Since the first week of February, organizers said the clinic has administered 26,573 first doses and 5,515 second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
On top of that, Operation Safe said it has not wasted a single dose.
"We have not even gotten close to expiring a dose," said Dr. Tod Beardman of North Kansas City Hospital, "We reach out and call people and get them here to get a dose in someone's arm."
If there are doses left over, the clinic calls or texts eligible individuals who previously filled out the Operation Safe interest form.
On its busiest day, Operation Safe saw 3,686 patients. The goal is to increase that to 4,000 patients per day starting next week.
The clinic is staffed by 300 volunteers, including retired healthcare workers, nursing students from local universities and police, fire and EMS staff from Northland cities.
According to Eva Karp, chief clinical and patient safety officer at Cerner, more volunteers are needed. People can get involved by messaging Operation Safe's Facebook page.
Karp described what it's like to talk to people in the recovery room after they have received vaccines.
"They are so happy to feel like they're on a journey to see COVID-19 leave our community and that they're going to be safe and actually able to hug their grandchildren again," she said.
Operation Safe is readying itself for March 15, when the next tier of eligibility will open in Missouri. At that time, 550,000 more people will be eligible for the vaccine.
The clinic is already seeing an uptick in sign ups on its interest form for Phase 1 Tier 3, as well as phases 2 and 3.
It's important to fill out that form as soon as possible, as people are contacted in the order they signed up.
"There's a finite amount of vaccine supply available right now, and the best advice I have for people is to make sure you're signing up on multiple lists, just as the advice has been before," Beardman said.
At the same time, Dr. Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer at Liberty Hospital, expressed optimism despite the influx of people seeking vaccines.
"The supply of vaccines is going to exponentially increase over the next couple of months, and certainly there are other avenues beyond Operation Safe. Commercial pharmacies are going to ratchet up their numbers as well," Adiga said.
Operation Safe is drawing interest from leaders hoping to replicate its success.
KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas toured the clinic on March 5, describing it as "the envy of our region and state."
Members of the city's vaccine task force also visited Operation Safe to learn about the collaboration.