Missourians who are first responders, 65 years or older, or have certain serious health problems are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccination. But state Health and Senior Services Department Director Dr. Randall Williams tells Missourinet there’s not enough vaccine to immunize all the people who fall into this category.
“We are getting about 80,000 vaccines a week and we have about two million people to vaccinate who are now eligible for the vaccine,” says Williams. “Of the two million people, 1.9 (million) are going to get an answer that we don’t have vaccine this week.”
Obviously, that means many Missouri vaccination sites don’t have the vaccine. Williams says vaccinators should get notified about one week in advance of their shipment.
“We only find out every week how much we have available to us,” says Williams. “They put in their order. We find out how much we. We allocate it. Then Moderna and Pfizer communicate with them directly through UPS and Federal Express and let them know when it’s coming in.”
The Pfizer vaccine comes in shipments of 975 doses. He says there’s also more work involved in getting the drug to rural parts of the state than the metro areas. But Williams says Gov. Mike Parson has been insistent on reaching all areas of the state.
“We have been incredibly purposeful about redistributing the Pfizer (vaccine),” says Williams. “So we’ve gotten into an area and then broken them down – 200 here, 300 here, 400 here. And that’s hard to do because when the second dose comes, the federal government won’t send it to the second place. It has to go to the first place and we have to do the same thing over again and keep track of it. If I send 10,000 doses to Barnes Jewish Hospital, I don’t worry about it anymore. They got it. They vaccinate. The people are in the hospital. They just have an appointment. They come get it. They report it. It’s done. If I send 3,000 doses down to Poplar Bluff, then I have to get it down to Kennett, I have to get it to Dunklin County. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
To look for a vaccination site, go to MOSTOPSCOVID.com and click on “Map”. Pick a site and get in touch with them.
“Interact with them to find out if they have vaccine, if they are eligible, are they giving it to them, and how do they make an appointment. But just understand that if you did that tomorrow, that of the two million people, 1.9 (million) are going to get an answer that we don’t have vaccine this week,” says Williams. “It is up to the vaccinator to inform them in whatever way they think they want to do, whether it’s a voicemail or a link on their computer to say, ‘We are a vaccinator. At this moment in time, we do not have vaccine. Or we do have vaccine. If you are in a prioritized group, this is how you get a vaccination.’ That’s how the system works. And that will depend on who the vaccinator is. Barnes Jewish Hospital may say, ‘We are only vaccinating our employees at this moment.’ Cole County may say, ‘Go to this link. Fill out the information and schedule your appointment.’”
Check with the provider to also learn how to get registered.
Missouri is largely using the honor system for the COVID-19 vaccination process. Williams says those getting immunized will need a photo ID and your health insurance information. You will be required to fill out a consent form.
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