ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Coronavirus vaccine supply is starting to outpace demand in Missouri, even after the state expanded eligibility, raising worries among some health care providers.
Early on, mass vaccination clinics in rural areas sometimes had excess doses, but demand had remained strong in more populous areas until recently. The slowdown is occurring even though the state deemed anyone 16 or older eligible to get the shot last week and most residents remain unvaccinated. State data shows that just 32.8% of residents have received at least one dose as of Wednesday.
“As a medical professional, I am concerned,” Dr. Davin Turner, chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, told the St. Joseph News-Press, noting that signups for vaccines have slowed down in the city. “We would like to see more folks getting vaccinated. Even if they had COVID, we still recommend vaccination.”
After weeks of not enough vaccines, suddenly in St. Louis County there are more shots than people to fill appointments, KSDK reports.
“As of this afternoon, we had about 1,600 appointments still open for tomorrow, and that’s all across St. Louis County locations,” said Sara Dayley with the St. Louis County health department on Wednesday.
And at a FEMA-run operation at the Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, the vaccination pace is still less than half of what the agency says it could give out — 3,000 shots per day. The program is for St. Louis city and county residents.
Dr. Alex Garza, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said it is too early to worry about not enough people wanting the shot.
“I’m guessing by ... this time next month that we’ll have a much better handle on how many people have been vaccinated ... what the hesitancy looks like,” said Garza. “And then focus efforts on getting more people vaccinated.”
In the Kansas City area, many appointments were available this week, including 2,000 on Thursday and Friday at a Cerner clinic location, WDAF-TV reports.
Boone Health also has appointments available for vaccinations at Columbia Mall, KMIZ reports.
“We have been able to fill the vast majority of our appointment slots to this point, but we have felt a shift,” spokesman Ben Cornelius said.
In the Jefferson City area, the Cole County Health Department planned to give out 4,000 total doses this week at the Capital Mall and has only filled 1,600 appointments.
Chezney Schulte with the Cole County Health Department said the clinic is accepting walk-ins. If the health department consistently can’t fill 4,000 spots in weeks to come, it will request fewer doses from the state, Schulte said.
Vaccine hunters have formed Facebook pages to find appointments for people in the past, but now the pages post about the widespread availability of appointments.
Jill Anderson, who has helped fill appointments through the “Missouri Covid 19 Vaccine Information” Facebook page, said getting a vaccine can now be described as “easy.”
Anderson said most people on social media have found a dose and the focus now needs to be reaching other groups of people such as the homebound and people with language barriers to educate them on the vaccine if they remain hesitant.
“When you talk about hesitant people, a lot of times they’re not saying, ‘No, I never want the vaccine.’ They’re saying I need a little bit more information,” Anderson said.