Missouri Minute: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receives full FDA approval; Gannett sells four Missouri newspapers

Hello, MBA readers,

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, clearing a path for companies, universities and local governments to mandate vaccination. Just over half of all Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but health officials hope full FDA approval will encourage hesitant individuals to get the shot. The regulatory clearance also means Pfizer can market the vaccine, which it will do under the brand name Comirnaty. In local health care news, a Department of Social Services official told employees that forms from Missouri residents seeking coverage under Medicaid expansion “will sit there” for two months. State officials say they are making updates to the system for determining Medicaid eligibility, and that they will wait until Oct. 1 to finalize those eligibility decisions. And, in news about the news, publisher Gannett has sold four Missouri newspapers to Arkansas-based Philips Media Group. The publications changing hands include newspapers in Joplin, Kirksville, La Plata and Rolla.

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Medicaid expansion applications may not be processed until October
A Missouri Department of Social Services official told employees that applications will not be approved until the state’s systems are updated, which will take place Oct. 1. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Gannett sells four Missouri newspapers
Arkansas-based Phillips Media Group acquired local newspapers in Joplin, Kirksville, La Plata and Rolla from Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

University of Missouri System’s nets nearly 30% gain
That return for the fiscal year ended June 30 topped the university system’s benchmark of 25.4%. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Say that again

“Vaccines are one of our greatest weapons against the virus. We hope this approval will bolster confidence in those who’ve been wavering.”

That’s Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, talking about the administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The approval paves the way for some universities, companies and local governments to mandate the vaccine, which has been administered 200 million times in the U.S., the Associated Press reports. To date, the vaccine has been administered under emergency authorization. Moderna is also seeking full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson is expected to do so later this year. Experts hope full FDA approval will encourage more people to get vaccinated. Currently, just over half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Among the employers announcing they will make vaccines mandatory was The Pentagon, meaning all active members of the military will have to be vaccinated.

Go figure


A total of 11 U.S. meatpacking plants requested to hire foreign workers last year, up from six in 2015, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Seaboard, which is based in the Kansas City area, has hired at least 100 workers on H-2B visas each year since 2017. Businesses can hire foreign workers to temporary roles when they are experiencing labor shortages. These workers typically are less likely to report poor working conditions because their jobs are tied to the employer sponsoring the visa, according to the Government Accountability Office. H-2B workers are required to a receive a wage that is equal to or better than the industry standard or local minimum wage, but a report from the Economic Policy Institute found they are often paid less.

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Steve Edwards, the president and CEO of CoxHealth and an unabashed advocate for COVID-19 vaccination in recent months, announced Monday that his Springfield-based health system will require workers to receive their first vaccine dose by Oct. 15. The decision followed the announcement that federal regulators had granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Springfield Business Journal reports. CoxHealth’s new policy applies to physicians, vendors, students and employees on the health system’s campuses. The system employs about 12,300 people in the Springfield area, 70% of whom are already vaccinated.

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