The St. Louis area is expected to receive thousands of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses under Missouri’s new allocation model, which is expected to go into effect later this month.
By the week of March 29, the state plans to base its weekly vaccine shipments to the state’s nine Highway Patrol regions on the number of eligible residents who remain to be vaccinated. Previously, the state distributed vaccines based on the total population.
According to draft figures shared on a phone call with vaccines Tuesday, the postponement means the St. Louis area’s weekly allotment will increase by five percentage points – from 37 percent to 42 percent of the state’s vaccine broadcast. The Kansas City area saw a one percentage point increase.
With the state expecting to receive approximately 120,300 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in combination by the week of March 29, the St. Louis area should receive just over 50,500 doses under the new model – about 6,000 more than it should the new model would have received allocation model based on the total population.
The Kansas City area is expected to receive nearly 28,900 doses, or about 1,200 more than under an overall population model.
This week, the director of the Kansas City Health Department said the region has cut about 40,000 doses so far because it received only about 20 percent of the state’s allocation despite making up about 23 percent of the state’s population, the Kansas City Star reported.
Six of the remaining regions will see a one percentage point decrease, while Region G, which includes the Ozarks, will continue to receive the same percentage.
The actual number of doses that will reach the region may be higher as the scheduled vaccine allocations for the week of March 29, announced Tuesday, do not include an expected delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The state learned last week that after receiving an initial shipment of approximately 50,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, it would not receive an additional shipment until the week of March 29 – two weeks after the next tier of eligible residents opened.
The allocation is shifted following renewed requests to the state to change its distribution model in order to ensure fair distribution. Governor Mike Parson also promised that by April 1, more mass vaccination teams will move to the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.
“This is really based again on the fact that now that we are moving further into the general population, we feel that we really need to focus our numbers specifically on the unvaccinated who are in open and eligible populations.” said Crumbliss about the allotment change.
Ted Delicath, principal at McChrystal Group, a Virginia-based consulting firm hired to advise the state’s response to the pandemic, told vaccines last week that the state’s move to allocating vaccines based on the Number of eligible residents is informed through analyzes carried out for the state by Deloitte Consulting.
Deloitte’s analysis, conducted February 8-22, repeatedly found that urban centers of Missouri have the largest “vaccine pick” – the estimated number of eligible residents who have not yet received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to have.
Analysis, conducted by the Missouri Independent on open record request, found that rural counties in the southwestern region of Missouri were the areas with the lowest percentage of eligible vaccinated residents.
Delicath said last week that the new model will be more targeted, “because if we only send vaccines based on the population as a whole, it will become general and imprecise.”
Robert Knodell, Parson’s deputy chief of staff, told vaccines that when they called the White House on Tuesday, federal officials expect a sharp spike in supply by the end of the month and early next month, particularly for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
President Joe Biden’s statement that the US expects adequate supply for any adult who wants a vaccine to have at least their first dose by the end of May is a “pretty big indicator” of the solid upward trend in supply for the nation, Crumbliss said.
After Tier 3 of Phase 1B, which also includes key personnel, opened on March 15, the next phase could open within 45 days, Parson said.
As the vaccine supply increases, Crumbliss expects the amount of vaccine to increase for groups such as local health departments and state-qualified health centers.
Outrage overcame in recent weeks after mass vaccination events in rural areas resulted in unused doses at the end of the day. This prompted some health departments to get involved on social media, encouraging everyone to come for fear that cans would be wasted.
It spurred some St. Louis residents to drop what they were doing in order to make it in time.
“On the one hand, we don’t want people to be able to do this because we want to get vaccines for these communities,” Crumbliss said of urban residents who drive hours to get vaccines.
But when that happens, “it leaves a vaccine delivery gap in these rural communities and so we need to try and possibly hold more events there to meet the demand,” Crumbliss said.
In one week alone, 7,735 doses were not used in mass vaccination events and passed on to other providers or saved for subsequent clinics. A total of 152 cans were wasted – with 143 from a single Putnam County event.
With the change in the state’s allocation strategy, the Crumbliss-emphasized vaccine is making its way through the state.
“We appreciate any patience people can have with the vaccine coming,” Crumbliss said.
The Missouri Independent is a non-profit, impartial news organization about the state government and its impact on Missourians.