About a week after two nurses at Mercy hospital in Springfield became the first southwest Missourians to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson briefed the public on the progress of a statewide vaccination program.
The state government received and distributed about 66,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines between Dec. 21-30.
“As you know, Missouri has now received shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” Parson said.
On Dec. 28, CVS and Walgreens began vaccinating residents and staff in nursing homes through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership.
Missouri stood to receive 84,000 initial doses for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 1, and another 73,000 in the first full week of January, along with second dose shipments of the Pfizer vaccine.
“It is extremely important that every Missourian return for the second dose of the COVID vaccine,” Parson said.
Statistically, second doses are not included in weekly allotment counts provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“Our vaccination plan is going well,” Parson said during the Wednesday briefing in Jefferson City. “I want to highly recommend and encourage all Missourians to visit our vaccine website, that is MoStopsCOVID.com.”
The website answers to common questions and up-to-date information and guidelines. There will also be a telephone hotline available.
“We are very encouraged by the progress Missouri is making and remain optimistic for the coming weeks and months,” Parson said. “Our data shows that Missouri’s hospitalizations and cases are stabilizing. With that said, this fight is not over, and prevention remains one of the best weapons we have against COVID-19.
Parson encouraged Missourians to continue with the COVID-19 spread reduction practices of social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces where distancing is not possible and avoiding unnecessary travel.
“Your actions are making a difference, and we must keep up our efforts,” Parson said. “So much has been politicized about one thing, but it’s all three things that made the difference. The results have put us in a much better place than most of the states around us.”
Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, also spoke to reporters at the briefing Dec. 30.
“Our hospitalizations are increased, but they are stable when we look at our R-naught, when we look at our cases per 100,000,” Williams said.
R-naught value is the mathematical estimation of the rate at which a disease spreads from person to person. An R-naught value of 1.0 or greater indicates that the average patient spreads a disease to more than one other person. An R-naught value less than 1.0 indicates a reduction in a disease’s spread among members of a population.
On Dec. 28, the R-naught value of COVID-19 in Missouri was 0.98. It has been at 1.0 or lower since Nov. 16. It was as high as 1.18 in July and 1.17 in October.
From Dec. 21 to Dec. 27, Missouri experienced a 30-percent decline in new cases of COVID-19, and a 0.1-percent drop in positive PCR test results, as compared to the prior seven-day period. In the same span of Dec. 21-27, Christian County showed a 46.6-percent decline in new cases, with a 5.8-percent drop in positivity rate. Christian County went from 567 new cases from Dec. 14-21, to 267 new cases from Dec. 21-27.
In total, the governor’s office calculates that Missouri received about 314,000 doses of vaccine in December. Parson said that the public can expect to see some lag time between the receipt of those vaccines and reports that they are administered. That’s because health care workers contracted through Walgreens and CVS pharmacies began their work of administering COVID-19 vaccines to staff and residents of long term care facilities and nursing homes on Dec. 28.
“You’ve got to remember, like the rest of the country, 50 percent of the vaccines have gone to our long term care facilities,” Parson said. “We think we’ll have by the middle of January—all of those vaccines will be administered, or shortly thereafter.”