Missouri last among states for first COVID shots

JIM SALTER
Associated Press
Doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine are prepped to be administered to healthcare workers on the frontlines at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City on Monday, December 14, 2020.

O'FALLON — Missouri ranks dead last among states for the percentage of residents who have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and two neighboring states don't fare much better.

Information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday showed that 242,937 Missourians have received the first shot, or 3,958 people per 100,000 residents. Idaho, Nevada and Alabama had the next worst per capita rates, followed by Missouri's neighbors on both sides — Kansas with 4,374 vaccinations per 100,000 residents, and Illinois with 4,392 vaccinations per 100,000 residents.

The supply of vaccine has failed to keep up with demand across the U.S. Missouri's health director, Dr. Randall Williams, said last week that he had already been contacted by the new Biden administration, which sought details about Missouri's plan.

Nationwide, about 18 million people, or less than 6% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of vaccine, including about 3 million who have received the second shot, according to the CDC. Only slightly more than half of the 41 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been injected into arms, by the CDC's count.

St. Louis County Department of Public Health spokeswoman Sara Dayley said more than 318,000 people have pre-registered for shots. That is nearly one-third of the county's approximate 1 million residents, though some of those who have registered may not be from the county.

County officials have cited some instances where people with appointments were turned away because the provider did not receive the vaccine.

"As soon as we can get those vaccines, we'll get them into the arms of the people who need them," Democratic County Executive Sam Page said during a news conference Sunday. "This is frustrating for everyone."

Low supply is also problematic in rural areas, too. In northwestern Missouri. the Tri-County Health Department, which serves DeKalb, Gentry and Worth counties, was recently told that its request for vaccine was denied by the state health department, the S t. Joseph News-Press  reported.

"It's just really hard for us to plan when we don't know when we'll be able to get vaccine," Tri-County Health Department Administrator Teresa McDonald said.

While Missourians are lagging in the first shot, the CDC data shows the state is doing better than the national average for those who have received both doses. About 1% of all Americans have received both, compared to 1.2% in Missouri