BY: U.S. REP. BILLY LONG
Several weeks ago I wrote about the breakthrough that is mRNA vaccines and their safety and efficacy. Thanks to President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, the United States has led the way in vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and administration. From the moment we knew an effective vaccine was on the horizon, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and his team came up with a plan to get vaccines into peoples arms while the federal government worked on getting vaccines to the states. The plan that state government officials came up with and executed has worked extremely well.
Like many states, Missouri administered its vaccines in phases, first going to the most vulnerable in our population and health care workers, then to at-risk individuals, then to front-line workers, and finally to any individual who wants one. Missouri moved through these phases quickly to ensure that the state could get to a point where vaccines are available to every resident. The Governor and his team have also been transparent with the data and vaccine availability throughout every step of the process. COVID-19 vaccination data is updated regularly and is publicly available at https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/data/ for anyone to see. At this dashboard, anyone can monitor the state’s vaccination rate and view data based on age, sex, race, or ethnicity. You can also view county-level vaccination rates.
Missouri has made great progress in getting vaccines into arms. As of this week, over 3.8 million doses have been administered and over 1.6 million people have completed vaccination. Overall, 37.1% of Missouri residents have initiated or completed their vaccinations. These numbers are even more impressive for the elderly. 62.7% of residents between the ages of 65 and 74 have completed vaccination and 65.7% of residents between the age of 75 and 84 have completed their vaccination. In the most populous county in Southwest Missouri, Greene County, 1 in every 4 individuals has completed vaccination. These numbers are impressive, and I am glad to see the elderly population embrace the vaccine, but there is still work to be done.
For example, we can make getting a COVID-19 vaccine easier and more convenient. In Joplin, a drive-thru clinic has made it so you never need to leave your car to get vaccinated. This is a model that some clinics are already doing and can be replicated on a larger scale. Convenience is a good way to get folks to turn out for a vaccine. If getting a vaccine is a hassle, people may not go out of their way to get vaccinated. Convenience and simplicity are key, and Missouri is making great progress on that front.
These COVID-19 vaccines have been tested, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and are proven to be safe and effective. I consulted with my doctor to make sure taking the vaccine was the right thing for me to do. After being assured it posed no risks to me I did go ahead and receive my vaccine and I encourage everyone who is able to sign up to receive theirs after consulting with their doctor. The state has made the process of registering to receive your COVID-19 vaccine straightforward and simple. You can register at https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/find/#navigator. where you will be asked to submit some information about yourself. You will be able to identify vaccination events in your area and schedule an appointment. You can also call Missouri’s COVID-19 hotline at (877) 435-8411 to sign up and schedule your appointment.
I have said before how there is light at the end of the tunnel, and thanks to the effort of Governor Parson and his team, that light is even brighter for Missourians. Infection rates and hospitalizations in Missouri are down and folks are getting their vaccines. If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, I would encourage you to either sign up through the state’s portal or find a vaccinator near you. You can find a local vaccinator at https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/find/#map.
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