JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson touted increases in Missouri’s coronavirus vaccine supply and decreases in new cases and lashed out at a St. Louis-area medical leader during his weekly briefing Thursday.
Parson said the seven-day rate of new cases is the lowest it has been since the summer. The state’s approximately 1,400 hospitalizations is about half the number seen during the fall surge, he said.
Parson said the state and federal governments are using multiple avenues to get more vaccines administered. That includes a federal partnership with Walmart and Health Mart pharmacies. The 81 Missouri Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in the program are set to start vaccinations Friday.
Next week more vaccine doses will be sent to federally qualified health centers, which offer medical services as discounted rates to the poor and uninsured. The state also has special teams on the ground in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas working with clergy to reach underserved people.
Missouri this week also unveiled a new website where residents can register to be notified when they’re eligible for the vaccine.
Watch a replay of the news conference in the player below.
Those programs are in addition to mass vaccination clinics being held in each of the state’s highway patrol regions and the state’s vaccine distribution program that delivers doses to hospitals, health departments and other medical providers.
However, demand for the vaccine is still outpacing supply. Missouri is now in Tier 2 of Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, which includes people 65 and older and those with certain health conditions.
Parson said efficiently taking care of the more vulnerable populations will allow the state to move on the next phases of its vaccination plan earlier.
“I cannot stress enough that supply remains the No. 1 issue restricting all Missourians who want a vaccine from receiving one,” Parson said. “In Missouri, we are vaccinating our most vulnerable.”
Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said he hopes the state can begin vaccinating the general public by June. Williams said the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson should be available in early March.
Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna have each pledged to deliver 100 million doses of their respective vaccines by June.
Williams also touted new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says people who have been fully vaccinated don’t have to quarantine if they’re exposed to the virus.
“That’s a game changer in some ways – I’m incredibly excited about that,” Williams said.
Parson criticizes St. Louis medical leader
Parson named Dr. Alex Garza with the St. Louis Metropolitan Task Force and reporting in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as misleading about the St. Louis region’s supply of coronavirus vaccine during Thursday’s briefing.
“There are some out there that want to push the narrative that we are not efficiently and adequately distributing COVID vaccines, especially in the St. Louis area,” Parson said. “This is not true.”
Parson has regularly used his briefings to criticize reports about coronavirus case rates and vaccination rates that he says are misleading. Parson said leaders such as Garza are leading with fear instead of presenting balanced information.
The spat started with complaints from St. Louis-areas leaders that they were not receiving a supply of doses proportionate with the area’s population.
As of Thursday, 764,378 vaccine doses have been administered in the state. It’s an increase of 180,118 doses from the same time last week.
Health officials have been holding mass vaccination events across the state for the last three weeks. Because of winter weather, the event that was supposed to be held in Osage Beach has been postponed.