JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One week into a new program, nearly 40,000 more Missourians are now vaccinated thanks to some hospitals across the state.
Last week, about 20 hospitals and this week 25 of them, are using more than half of the state’s allotment to vaccinate Missourians in their own mass vaccination events, and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) says it’s a system they plan to keep in place.
Dave Dillon is a spokesperson for MHA and he said last week, those 20 hospitals involved were given 40,000 doses.
“This gets a little better every day,” Dillon said. “We have to get this done as quickly as possible because those variants, one of which we’ve seen in Missouri, spread more rapidly and the faster we vaccinate, the less likely it will have a disproportion impact on our ability to box the virus in.”
Just like the Missouri National Guard and local health departments, hospitals are given a percentage of the state’s weekly shipment, but they receive the most, at 53%.
“Hospitals were able to deliver virtually all of the vaccine in a fairly short amount of time, and we’re going to have to replicate that basically every week moving forward,” Dillon said. “The metros received quite a bit more than 5,000, but individual hospitals in those metros may have a specific target below that grand total.”
Hospitals in the program rotate every other week for the month of February.
“It is scaled by population and I think that makes sense, as long as it is also targeting where the vulnerable populations are,” Dillon said.
The program uses a mix of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but the Pfizer vaccines are normally shipped to the bigger cities due to the extreme cold freezers it has to be stored in.
Dillon said each hospital holds its mass vaccination event differently. Some use their campus, others have used fairgrounds or stadiums.
“They’ve used either their campus, a space on their campus that was large enough to move through,” Dillon said. “To find a place that you can either put cars or people enough to socially distance while you’re doing the actual vaccination.”
As for communities that feel like they are vaccine deserts, Dillon said it’s not one particular place.
“Every place in Missouri is a vaccine desert, if you look at the demand of the vaccine and our ability to try and meet that demand,” Dillon said.
Dillon said he did hear from a number of hospitals that, “It was a bit of a lift,” for them to staff the vaccination events and the hospital, but they managed.
The state started a new program Monday on its vaccine website called the Missouri Vaccine Navigator. It helps Missourians register, determine their eligibility, and be notified when it’s their turn for the vaccine.
Dillon said hospitals are not using it yet, but they hope to soon.
“We need to get hospitals plugged into that system so that all of their events can access the individuals that have indicated that they are looking for the vaccine,” Dillon said. “They just brought that system up and it is our intention to do everything we can to be a part of it.”
For now, Dillon said each hospital is on their own when it comes to registering those for the vaccine.
Besides the hospital program, the state still has mass vaccination sites with local health department and the National Guard.
On Tuesday, the state also released the 81 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy locations in the state where Missourians can be vaccinated, as long as they are eligible.
The hospitals are separated into Missouri State Highway Patrol’s nine regions. Dillon said allocation of the vaccine is based on population.
Here is a list of the hospitals participating: