KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri's top health leaders say the state has come a long way in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
During a media call Wednesday, Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, joined Robert Knodell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Gov. Mike Parson and Adam Crumbliss, Director of the DHSS Division of Community and Public Health.
Dr. Williams said the state is expecting a fairly significant amount of vaccines next week from Johnson and Johnson immediately after it receives FDA approval.
"J&J has committed to 100 million doses by June," Williams said.
Williams said the state is encouraged by increased distribution from the federal government from Moderna and Pfizer. The state will be receiving close to 60,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and it originally projected to receive 50,000.
The state launched its new vaccine navigator site earlier this week.
Crumbliss said it aims to serve as a registration point for Missourians to sign up and be informed about events in their area.
"One of the things that we're certainly aware of and working toward is continuing to integrate that system into use with others that have their own registration systems and collaborating with them to help build out clarity and communication so that we can help make sure we're working with the local community," Crumbliss said.
Crumbliss spoke about how far the state has come in the distribution process.
"In a very short duration of time we've come a long way in the state and the nation and we'll continue to go even further," Crumbliss said.
However, he compared where the nation is in the pandemic currently with being in the "fifth inning." He stressed basic precautions such as hand-washing, social distancing and mask-wearing remains crucial.
While health officials say Missouri is heading in a good direction, some Missourians are frustrated as they struggle to get vaccinated.
Independence resident Donald Beckley is 65 years old and currently eligible for the vaccine, but he hasn't been able to get his first dose yet.
"I'm not asking to get in front of any lines, I'm not asking for that at all, I just don't know where the line is," Beckley said.
Beckley said he has tried registering through the Jackson County Health Department, local hospitals, and clinics around the region.
"I just want to get vaccinated, me and my wife, we've been pretty cautious, we're both 65, we both have some medical issues involved," Beckley said.
The state is continuing to plan mass vaccine clinics in its nine highway patrol regions. Crumbliss said Missourians do not have to live in a region to attend a clinic there.
However, when using the state's new navigator map, Missourians will find they can only sign up for alerts about events in their region.
In order to sign up for an event in a different region, they would need to do so through a local agency such as a county health department.