Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists are still working toward the day they can release a vaccine.
But in a press conference Thursday, Missouri officials said they’ll be ready when that day comes.
A 111-page plan sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for feedback outlines steps to distribute doses in a series of “phases.”
Phase 1 would start with a focus on health care workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities on the front lines of the fight against the virus.
Once those people are taken care of, the focus would shift to people in critical infrastructure jobs and people at high risk for getting really sick from the virus, such as those over 65 and those with chronic conditions.
In Phase 2, the focus would broaden further to vaccine “populations at risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19,” such as minority groups and “housing-insecure” people.
The state would also kick up efforts to vaccinate people who live and work in group settings, such as prison inmates and college students.
Then Phase 3 would bring in everyone else.
The state thinks each phase would take roughly 90 days, though that will depend on how quickly the drugs can be manufactured and whether they work.
It also depends on how many doses are available.
Dr. Randall Williams, the state health director, said he expects at least one vaccine to be available in late November or December.
But that, too, could change.
Just one of four companies currently in the later stages of testing a vaccine, Pfizer, has said it will know whether the drug works by the end of November, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And late last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate committee he didn’t expect most Americans to receive a dose until April, according to CBS.
Even when the vaccine is widely available, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wouldn’t require people to get it — a tack he has taken with other coronavirus prevention measures like masking.
“Do we really want the governor of the state of Missouri to make a mandate that every man, woman and child be vaccinated?” he said. “That's the power you have in this office. That's what's coming up next when this vaccine comes out.”