KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most Missourians will have to wait through the winter before the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to them.
State leaders submitted a vaccine distribution plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Thursday afternoon.
"This vaccine is a huge development as we move forward to have that for the general public," said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
According to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Doctor Randall Williams, the first doses of the vaccine could be available in the state by late November or early December.
Williams said due to what he expects will be limited doses in the beginning, some residents will have top priority for vaccinations, in order "to protect Missouri's most vulnerable people and to very much get this in front of our health care providers," Williams said.
He also said the care of individual patients and preventing community virus spread are two keys moving forward.
For that reason, the plan has a three-phase approach to distribute the vaccine.
Health care workers, including those at long-term-care facilities, people with existing health issues and first responders are among the people slated to get the vaccine in the first two phases of distribution.
The shot will be available to the general public in the third phase, which Williams estimated will begin in April.
However, Williams said the vaccine won’t be available to children and pregnant women because phase three vaccine trials haven’t been done for those groups yet.
"I do think this is our best chance and our best pathway to get to a better place," Williams said.
Although the governor said the percentage of people dying from the coronavirus is down in Missouri, the state averaged about 1,400 new cases per day this past week.
Parson said it’s part of a spike in cases across the Midwest.
Williams said Missouri could get four different vaccines currently going through a multi-layered approval process.
Three of them require cold storage and two shots.
The fourth one does not require cold storage and is only one injection.
Williams said it’s currently unclear what vaccine Missouri might get.
"We are committed to making sure that it is safe,” he said.
When the vaccine is ready, there’s expected to be drive-up vaccination sites much like the testing sites.
"I want to assure you that Missouri is fully prepared for when this time comes," Parson said.
One potential site in Kansas City is Truman Medical Center, which is working through the application process with the state and the CDC.
A statement from Truman reads:
“We have done a great deal of planning, with the goal of being a go-to COVID vaccine site, much as we have become the region’s go-to site for COVID testing. Our plan is to provide the vaccine as a drive-thru service, providing that meets the requirements of vaccine administration. Ultimately, we will be following state and CDC guidelines.”