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COVID-19 vaccine Phase 1A rollout begins in St. Louis County

The long awaited release of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide happened in December, just in time to be considered a holiday gift. But as was the case with so many holiday gifts in 2020, delivery details for some recipients are sketchy and receipt may be delayed. 

COVID-19 Vaccine
On Monday, Dec. 21, Chastity White, BS, RRT, was St. Luke’s Hospital’s first employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. (Source: St. Luke’s Hospital)

Per the state’s vaccine rollout plan, the first Missourians to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will be long-term care facility residents and staff along with healthcare personnel and staff who may have direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and are unable to work from home. Entities in that category began receiving and administering the vaccine to their staff and residents in mid-December. Examples of those entities include area hospital networks that are vaccinating members of their staffs and local pharmacies participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program that are vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care facilities.

According to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, as of Jan. 7, Missouri has administered more than 113,000 doses of vaccine. This number does not include the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program.

(Source: health.mo.gov)

On Jan. 5, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health announced that it had received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccination administration to patient-facing healthcare workers began last week with about 275 health department clinical employees numbered among those professionals. 

The rollout will occur in three phases, with Phase 1 taking place in two parts. Phase 1A is taking place now. Phase 1B includes high risk populations, first responders and essential workers. State officials are predicting that Phase 1B will begin next month. Phase 2 is targeted to populations who are at increased risk (prisoners, homeless, etc.). Phase 3 would see the vaccine administered to all remaining Missouri residents who choose to be vaccinated. That phase likely will not occur until late spring or early summer. 

Some of that information on the minds of those awaiting the vaccine includes data about the vaccine’s safety, efficacy and cost. 

The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses, issued three weeks apart. According to public health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine cannot give a recipient COVID-19 because it does not contain the live virus. Clinical trials have shown it to be 95% effective. On its website, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said that the COVID-19 vaccination is to be available free to all Missourians, including those without insurance. 

“No person can be billed for the COVID-19 vaccine,” the website states. “Vaccination providers may charge an administration fee to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, if applicable in your situation. Uninsured Missourians will be able to receive the vaccination regardless of their health insurance status.” Covidvaccine.mo.gov has additional information about the vaccination.

What is not known yet is how long that protection will last. Ongoing clinical trials are seeking to answer that question.

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