Gov. Mike Parson activated Phase 1B — Tier 1 of Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccination plan Thursday, Jan. 14. The phase focuses on first responders, public health professionals not facing patients and emergency management and public works employees.
“Beginning the activation of Phase 1B is all about saving lives and protecting those most vulnerable to exposure and illness from this virus,” Parson said. “We are looking forward to increased vaccine supply in the coming weeks as supply is the leading factor that dictates our movement through our plan. The more supply we receive, the quicker we can reach our goal of making vaccines available to every Missourians who wants one.”
The activation of Phase 1B — Tier 1 reflects guidance the state received from federal partners as well as information gathered from stakeholders across the state.
Phase 1B — Tier 2 will be activated Monday, Jan. 18. Tier 2 focuses on those at increased risk for severe illness such as those aged 65 and those with chronic disease, pregnancy, severe obesity, weakened immune systems or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome.
“Although initial tiers within Phase 1B are being activated, … there are currently not enough vaccines for everyone included in these groups. As additional supplies arrive, this activation will allow for the greatest vaccine coverage where it is most needed,” states a release from the governor’s office. “… Individuals in Phase 1A and Phase 1B — Tier 1 should work through their employer and/or association to access the vaccine. Individuals in Phase 1B — Tier 2 should contact their local pharmacy or health care provider or visit MOStopsCovid.com to learn when vaccines may be available and how to receive them.”
When ask if the county health agency has experienced delays in getting access to doses of the vaccine, Clay County Public Health Center Director Gary Zaborac said the overall rollout and distribution of vaccines to states and regional public health agencies like the one he helms has been slower than anyone would like, but he's hopeful that distribution will begin to "improve significantly over the coming weeks."
"It's important to emphasize that we are following the state's plan for vaccinating people in phases per risk category. Additionally, the vaccine storage requirements — the requirement of two doses and the requirement that people have to be monitored for 15 minutes after each shot — are added logistical challenges that makes this effort unique compared to other vaccination efforts we have had to undertake in the past," he said.
A list of vaccinators and regional vaccine implementation teams will be made available at MOstopsCovid.com Friday, Jan. 15. DHSS encourages employers and associations representing individuals in activated phases to use the list to connect with a vaccinator or regional vaccine implementation team in their area and make a plan for vaccinating their teams.
“We know one of the most common questions among Missourians right now is when it will be their turn to be vaccinated, and we are greatly encouraged by the interest in the vaccines from the public,” said Williams. “Each day, our team is monitoring the amount of vaccine available and making sure it is distributed so that people can receive the vaccine as quickly as possible. We are so thankful to our hundreds of clinical partners throughout the state who are making that happen.”
Based on reporting from providers, at least 27% of Phase 1A has received the first dose of the vaccine.
“This includes residents and staff of long-term care facilities and health care workers, including dentists, EMS, school nurses and those working in hospital or clinic settings, among others,” states a release.
“Missourians began receiving first doses of COVID-19 vaccines last month. More than 160,000 individuals have received an initial dose, and more than 22,000 have now been fully vaccinated with the 2-dose series. Vaccine supply continues to be the rate-limiting factor for vaccine administration throughout the state. State vaccine allocations are determined by the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.”
Zaborac said at the county level, it will likely be late spring or early summer before vaccination of those most at risk will be complete.
"When that is complete, we will then move to Phase 3 where the general public can start getting vaccinated," he said. "It will probably be late summer or early fall before we vaccinate enough people to reach herd immunity. That will also, of course, depend on the number of people who choose to get vaccinated. The more who do so the quicker we will move out of this pandemic. We will need people's continued patience, cooperation and support as we move forward. I know we can do this as a community."