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Kauerauf: COVID-19 vaccination is the way forward

  

With about half of Missouri’s population vaccinated for COVID-19, Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Donald Kauerauf continues to encourage those who are wary of the vaccine to consider it. 

“We have the tools right now to get out of COVID, and that’s the way to go, plain and simple,” Kauerauf said. “When do we see the greatest upticks in vaccination? When a community is being ravaged by the virus. … Contact your local public health agency; we know there are various neighborhood pharmacies available to provide vaccinations.”

Kauerauf, who officially took the position three weeks ago, said much of the nation’s focus had drifted toward potential booster vaccinations while efforts to reach those who are hesitant to get the vaccine should be the priority. 

Kauerauf sat down with The Missouri Times Wednesday for an interview covering everything from vaccination rates and mask mandates to legislation and his goals for the department. Kauerauf pointed to the influx of funds coming into the state to respond to the pandemic and hoped to see it put toward enhancing the overall public good in the future. 

“Let’s go to the Bootheel, where we know that there’s such a lack of medical care out there, let’s provide connectivity and take advantage of recovery funds and let’s build this state,” he said. “Let’s build broadband, let’s build distance learning, let’s create public health systems that have been neglected for decades. Let’s just make this a better state as we come out of this.”

Kauerauf was tapped for the role in July after a lengthy tenure with Illinois’ health department. With ample experience in emergency response and readiness planning, he said he hoped to encourage preventative efforts and screening initiatives during his time at the helm of DHSS. 

Missouri reported 10,253 positive COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths over the past seven days. More than 64 percent of the state’s adult population has received at least an initial dose, and 57 percent are fully inoculated. 

Watch the full interview with Kauerauf below.