ST. LOUIS– Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, discussed the challenges with the supply and demand the region is facing when it comes to getting the population vaccinated.
The state currently is receiving about 76,000 doses from the federal government each week. Dr. Garza explained 53% of that allotment will go to high throughput centers located in each of Missouri’s nine highway patrol regions.
Dr. Garza says the health care systems in our part of the state make up roughly 37% of the state’s population but will only receive about 15,600 doses from the state each week. That amount is roughly 20% of the state’s allotment.
“It is taking a while to get through the population and we understand people are concerned and frustrated if they are in an eligible population and not receiving the vaccine on a very timely basis,” said Dr. Garza.
He said the St. Louis region is almost done vaccinating the Phase 1A population and has begun to move on to Phae 1B – Tier 1.
He explained that when it comes to those in Phase 1B – Tier 2, there are nearly 700,665 people that need to be vaccinated just in Region C.
“You can do the math and see how long it will take,” said Dr. Garza.
He also said the reason for that is vaccine scarcity in the region. He did acknowledge that vaccine production is expected to increase in the future, but until then he said demand will outweigh supply.
He said the task force is looking at who is admitted and who is dying to prioritize a vaccine schedule.
“Currently, the health care systems are focusing on those populations it is going to affect the most, that includes those persons greater than 75-years-old and patients with other things such as active cancer or organ transplants,” explained Dr. Garza.
The throughput centers in Region C, which includes 11 area counties and the City of St. Louis, are the four major health care systems and the St. Louis County Health Department.
While those centers make up 53% of the states allotment, 8% of doses are going to public health agencies, and 8% to federally qualified health centers.
The National Guard is also receiving 23% of the doses that will be used at mass vaccinations sites set up in each of the 9 regions of the state.