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Consulting firm helps Missouri pinpoint 'vaccine deserts'

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 3:22 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 16:22:04-05

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A consulting firm is helping Missouri identify "vaccine deserts" to try and make the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines as equitable as possible, with attention now focused on addressing areas within the two largest cities.

The Missouri Independent reported Friday that Deloitte Consulting told a meeting of the Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution that the goal is to determine where residents have little or no access to vaccines. The global consulting firm with offices in Missouri has been paid nearly $600,000 by the state this fiscal year.

Deloitte's Andrew Miller said tracking has successfully helped turn around previously lagging vaccination efforts in Boonville, Owensville and Hayti. But Miller noted that vaccine deserts remain concerning in parts of north St. Louis and the Interstate 435 corridor in Kansas City.

In some areas of Kansas City, some people are 7 miles from the nearest provider. While some areas of St. Louis are within a mile or two of a provider, the high density of residents may make access more difficult and "it might be a little trickier to find new locations to provide access points," Miller said.

"So this may require some solutions that are maybe non-traditional," Miller said.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson wrote to Gov. Mike Parson on Friday, asking for CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in St. Louis to be approved as vaccination sites, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Parson said Thursday that the state was partnering with Walmart and Health Mart pharmacies to give vaccinations. St. Louis city has no Walmart stores and just three Health Mart pharmacies, but has 12 CVS pharmacies and nine Walgreens stores.

Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones said the governor's office had not yet read the letter.

New vaccine deserts have also arisen in Weston in Platte County and Piedmont in Wayne County, but Miller said nearby towns in both areas have vaccine providers, which may be able to help increase access.

The state uses the data to target areas with the biggest gaps, said Adam Crumbliss, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Division of Community & Public Health.

Missouri's health department reported 1,325 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, and 17 new deaths. The state has reported 464,444 cases and 7,130 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.