If the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer’s request for emergency use of the company’s COVID-19 drug, Missouri could get the first shipment of the vaccine later this month. The first batch is expected to include enough doses to vaccinate 51,000 people, followed by enough to immunize 64,000 the next week.

DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams

The first phase of the state’s immunization plans will allow healthcare workers to get the two-dose vaccine about one month apart. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams tells Missourinet vaccinating nurses and other hospital employees will help to alleviate a shortage of those workers.

“About 10% – the reason they’re not at work is because they have COVID or they’re quarantined,” says Dr. Williams. “Getting them vaccinated by the end of January at our ten additional sites, is going to be huge for taking care of that issue. So, we’re incredibly excited about that.”

According to the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine website, the first phase will also include other essential workers like daycare and school workers, first responders and some food processing employees.

On Tuesday, the CDC prioritized long-term care residents to get vaccinated. During a Capitol press conference today with the governor, Williams says the extra Pfizer doses will be used to vaccinate both long-term care residents and employees beginning around December 21. Missouri has about 58,000 patients living in these facilities.

The state is expected to get doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for 105,000 other hospital workers. Williams says the state is on track to have all of its 300,000 healthcare workers vaccinated by the end of January.

Williams says residents and staff within Missouri’s congregate facilities like prisons and mental healthcare will begin getting vaccinated in February.

Under Missouri’s plan, the general public could get vaccinated in phase 2 and 3 as the vaccine availability increases.

The state has identified 21 sites to store the vaccinations. Their locations are a mystery. Williams tells Missourinet the federal government has restricted the state from releasing their locations.

“We’re not allowed to share that for security reasons,” says Dr. Williams.

He says the drugs can be stored for up to six months.

“To receive the distribution, you have to assure the CDC that you can vaccinate that amount of people in 10 days,” says Williams. “You can’t hoard it. You can’t ask for 10,000 doses and say we’re going to use it over three months.”

To view the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine website, click here.