The state of Missouri has submitted to federal officials a plan for how it will administer a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began communicating with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in April regarding early planning measures. A team of state officials, Missouri National Guardsmen, and federal and local leaders started forming Missouri’s plan in August, completing it ahead of an Oct. 16 CDC deadline.
With the expectation that the initial supply of the vaccine will be limited, this plan gives instruction to first inoculate health care workers and staff at long-term care facilities, Parson’s office announced. This approach aims to relieve stress on the health care system so that medical professionals remain available to treat incoming patients.
“Missouri’s long-term care facilities employ tens of thousands of essential health care workers dedicated to caring for our residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age and underlying health conditions,” Nikki Strong, executive director of the Missouri Health Care Association, said in a press release. “The asymptomatic nature of this virus makes it difficult to keep it from entering long-term care facilities through these essential staff”
When a larger quantity of the vaccine is available, it will be distributed to the elderly and those at high risk of facing medical complications if they contract the virus, according to the governor’s office. Additionally, there are plans to distribute vaccinations to essential workers, especially those employed in schools and critical businesses, during this second wave of inoculations.
Following distribution to those groups, vaccines will then be made available to anyone who would like to be vaccinated.
Although the state implementation team must coordinate with federal agencies, this plan intends to employ local and regional implementation teams.