Missouri ranks last among 50 states in COVID-19 vaccine shots administered

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:35 PM CST
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According to numbers provided by the CDC, just four percent of Missourians have received the first dose of the COVID vaccine, last among all 50 US states.

Late Monday afternoon Lisa Cox, the Communications Director with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, responded with this statement:

“As we have seen in many nationwide rankings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (ie. cases, testing), we expect rankings by state of vaccine administration to continue to ebb and flow as the difference in rates among many states is marginal. Currently, for instance, Missouri has the tenth lowest rate for new COVID-19 cases in the country with both PCR and antigen testing combined (sixth when only accounting for the state’s confirmed PCR-tested cases).

The total amount of vaccines shipped to Missouri (as of 1/25/21) are 661,400, of those 304,434 (46%) have not been reported or administered. To date, over 351,000 doses have been administered, and 4.4% of the eligible population have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

The limited allotments that our state receives continues to limit the rate at which people are vaccinated, but we have also become aware that some of Missouri’s vaccinators have not been administering vaccinations as efficiently as we have been asking, but we are working with these providers to increase the speed at which they get vaccines into arms. With that said, state-enrolled vaccinators in Missouri have administered over 60% of the doses shipped into the state for their use.

A large amount of the distributed amount sits with the federal pharmacy partnership which was activated to serve long-term care staff and residents. To date, unfortunately, the federal partnership has administered only 17% of those shots. 332,000 doses have been allocated to this program with CVS and Walgreens. Of those 211,400 doses have been ordered by the participating pharmacies, and 56,498 doses have been administered in 920 clinics throughout the state, based on their reporting.

The State of Missouri interagency vaccination planning team is responsible for determining where vaccines go throughout the state based on the limited amount of vaccine allotted each week to Missouri. The State places vaccine orders through federal partners on behalf of providers throughout Missouri who make vaccine requests through us, and then vaccines are shipped in the days following directly to the providers who vaccinate Missourians. The State of Missouri does NOT store or distribute the vaccines and ancillary supplies.”

Certainly there’s no doubt that the demand is far-and-away bigger than the supply.

Over the weekend Mercy started vaccinating members of the general public that met the state guidelines for Phase 1B, Tier 2 which includes those age 65-and-over and/or those with high-risk health conditions.

Mercy gave out over 650-doses to people in Springfield, Lebanon Branson, Bolivar, Rolla and Mountain Grove.

Mtn. Grove gave out 54 shots and Dr. David Barbe, a Mercy Regional Vice-President, said that was a drop in the bucket compared to what they needed.

“My staff here feels like they could give four times that many in a day,” Dr. Barbe said. “We could give 200 doses a day in Mtn. Grove and of course Rolla, Bolivar, Branson and Lebanon more than that. The problem is, that allocation to southwest Missouri is just coming slower than we had hoped.”

Besides the details the DHSS mentioned in the release above, the state has also explained that the lower numbers are in part due to all the totals from nursing homes not being available.

“A large fraction of the state’s allocation was earmarked for long term care facilities and appropriately so,” said Dr. Robin Trotman, a CoxHealth Infectious Disease Specialist. “They’re the people most likely to have severe consequences or even die.”

Governor Mike Parson also pointed out last week that not all vaccinators are reporting by computer.

“There are at least 68 vaccinators that are manually reporting data which slows the process and creates a backlog of paperwork,” he said.

But regardless of the numbers, area officials say they definitely could be moving faster and putting more shots in arms if more of the vaccine was available.

According to Dr. Trotman, CoxHealth, which uses the Moderna vaccine, hasn’t started vaccinating the Tier 2 group yet.

“We used up our allocation vaccinating our health care workers and are waiting on more doses,” he said.

Mercy, which uses Pfizer, has started Tier 2, but they’re limited as well.

“We’ve had almost 30,000 register in southwest Missouri,” Dr. Barbe said. “We don’t have anywhere near that much vaccine.”

With 70-85 percent of the population needing to be inoculated to reach herd immunity, reaching that level by the end of the summer isn’t likely at the current pace.

“Almost certainly there will be other vaccines coming soon that will hopefully speed up this process,” Dr. Trotman said. “But herd immunity is one or two seasons away from hopefully having some relief and getting back to some sense of normal.”

And even if you’re on the list to get a shot in a particular category, there will also be a pecking order as to when you get called in for your vaccination based on the priorities determined by your vaccinator.

“Most physicians know their populations and know which individuals are at the greatest risk of getting disease if they get COVID,” Dr. Barbe said. “So we will prioritize for those who need it the most.”

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