JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – More than half the country vaccinates teachers, but Missouri doesn’t.
Approximately 11% of the Missouri population have received at least their first dose. However, if you are not 65 or older, a health worker, or someone with pre-existing health problems, you may not be able to get a vaccine just yet. And Parson said he was sticking to the state’s plan, which means teachers will have to wait too.
“We had a plan. This plan was very successful from day one, ”said Parson in an exclusive interview. “We took a balanced approach in this situation. As we work through this, it’s a bit faster than I thought, so that’s the good news. “
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Missouri began vaccinating in mid-December. Since then, more than 680,000 Missourians have received at least their first dose. But mass vaccinations were suspended this week after the weather raised safety concerns and then delayed shipments.
“We had planned in good time, three to four weeks,” said Parson. “We knew there would be days if anything should happen. We’ll go back there and make up for those days.”
The White House announced on Friday that 6 million vaccines were delayed nationwide due to the weather, including doses coming into Missouri. According to the Missouri Department of Health, around 186,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were delayed in transit.
“We had a vaccine that we had left last week because of the weather to bring it into this week,” said Parson.
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Parson also said that only Missourians should receive the vaccine in this condition, unless the vaccine is offered by your employer.
“I don’t want people from other states to get the vaccine with our allocation in Missouri because it’s absolutely not fair to the most at risk in this state,” Parson said. “I was disappointed to hear it did, but we’re trying to make sure there is a clear understanding that Missourians have priority.”
A group of Missourians said they waited long enough to be protected, but Parson said teachers would have to keep waiting.
“When the time comes we will open it to all teachers and all teachers will be treated equally,” said Parson.
Missouri vaccinates Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Levels 1 and 2, but teachers fall under Tier 3.
“It’s just about getting to them and I think again – I just want to say that I think it will go faster than everyone thought,” said Parson.
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Earlier this week, a handful of teachers wrote to the state health director asking him to prioritize teachers. The Director of Public Health, Dr. Randall Williams said in a weekly press conference with the governor on Thursday that his focus was on the elderly. Parson agrees with him.
“We just have to take care of our most vulnerable populations first,” said Parson. “You just have to understand that we have to be patient enough to let them go because they are the ones who are really at extremely high risk. They are the ones blocking the health system and we have to take care of them. “
28 other states are currently vaccinating school staff. When asked if he would put the teachers in line, Parson said no.
“We want to make sure these teachers feel safe, but the last thing I’m going to do is make a political decision,” Parson said. “I will not do that. One thing everyone should be prepared for is when the next tier opens. How are you going to give this vaccine to the teachers? “
Nearly 94,000 cans are going to Missouri this week, and Parson said the point was to spread those shots and get your arms around.
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“Our whole plan was how do we distribute these amounts, how do we keep them as equal as possible every week?” Said Parson. “One area is not going to get more than any other, and so we will do business until that vaccine becomes more available. There is no reason for us to provide vaccines to anyone. “
He also said the state was currently in the process of taking vaccines from CVS and Walgreens, who had worked with long-term care facilities at the federal level to vaccinate residents and staff but were not using anything they were assigned.
During a press conference last month, Parson warned vendors not to withhold cans. Currently he said he did not know any cans would be withheld.
“I think we made it very clear that that wasn’t going to happen now,” said Parson. “I think there were some who held that second dose, but the last thing we need is someone sit on any cans if they can get them into people’s arms.”
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When asked about his communication with the new Washington DC administration, Parson said it was good.
“You can definitely say that this is a new administration and I am not saying anything bad about it. I’m just saying it’s new and people are trying to judge how they do things in different situations, ”Parson said. “In terms of communication, we’ve communicated with them every week since the new administration got there. Conversations are good. “
Parson said more federal government vaccines will come into the state and hopes that with the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, more Missourians will be vaccinated soon.
“The main thing we want to stress to the White House and the federal government is to let the states do their job and just get us more vaccine,” Parson said.
During the interview, Parson said the state will have some good news about the move to the next tier in the next week or two. He believes Missouri will vaccinate Tier 3 sometime in March.
As of Friday, Missouri ranked third in the country for the lowest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
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