As Gov. Mike Parson announced the opening of Phase 1B, Tier 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 distribution plan, Tom Patterson -- the Nodaway County public health administrator -- noted that vaccine availability looks slim in the county.
Patterson said the main challenge Missouri will face among the opening of Phase 1B will be the availability of vaccines, a common theme among the opening of new tiers.
“We weren’t expecting them to do this at this time,” Patterson said. “Vaccines aren’t widely available.”
In Parson’s announcement, he noted that the state was following recommendations from federal partners and information from stakeholders across the state in regards to the opening of Phase 1B, Tier 1.
Parson also announced that the state opened Phase 1B, Tier 2 on Jan. 18.Tier 1 of Phase 1B opened Jan. 14.
Patterson noted that there are some areas in Missouri that haven’t received any vaccines since the original distribution in December 2020. Maryville is not one of the areas that Patterson mentioned to have not gotten any vaccines.
He also said the timing involved with the opening of these tiers makes it seem like the vaccines will be available sooner and the distribution will become faster, but this is not the case.
According to the CDC, as of Jan. 15 the number of distributed coronavirus vaccines in Missouri is 528,800.
“It’s going to get a little bit stressful here for the next month or so,” Patterson said.
Patterson continued to emphasize patience with the community. He said the opening of Tiers one and two in Phase 1B was something that the health department was not expecting.
The health department will not be able to order anymore vaccines for at least another two weeks due to the federal government’s partnership with pharmaceutical companies to vaccinate long-term health care facilities.
According to a KY3 article, Missouri will not be receiving as many COVID-19 vaccines as planned from Operation Warp Speed. The director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in the KY3 article, as of Jan. 15, that the state is currently receiving 70,000 to 80,000 vaccines per week, but the state was expecting roughly double that amount.
Between the delay in the health department’s ability to request more vaccines and the unexpected change in state’s allocation of vaccines, Patterson’s predictions of vaccine availability are more evident.
“We’ll see — in a couple weeks, maybe it will start to look better,” Patterson said.
Despite Patterson’s concerns with vaccine availability, he said he is glad to see students attending classes in person.
As of Jan. 16, the latest available data by time of publication, there are 70 current cases in the county, 14 of which involve Northwest students and staff. The seven-day rolling case average is seven. There have been 2,477 total COVID-19 cases in the county and 21 deaths.
Regardless of the statistics, Patterson preached the need to take precautions, but also the importance of going to school, rather than learning through a screen.
“I don’t think we can stay home,” Patterson said. “I mean, what else are we going to do?”