Missouri lawmakers get vaccine doses meant for others

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri legislators and members of their staffs have received initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine that were intended for other state employees, a mistake that one lawmaker called "emblematic" of the problems that have dogged the vaccine rollout. 

A team of vaccinators was at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City on Wednesday giving shots of the Pfizer vaccine to employees of the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety. State health department spokeswoman Lisa Cox told the Columbia Missourian that all of the employees getting shots were in tiers approved for vaccinations.

But House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said she heard from a senator that shots would be available more broadly. She alerted other Democrats in an email that read, "Vaccines are currently at capitol plaza hotel for state employees. Must have employee ID." The Missourian obtained the email from a staff member in the House.

"I saw members from several different departments, whether that was the attorney general's office, the House, Senate staffers," Quade told the Kansas City Star. "I mean, it seemed like all state employees were welcomed in there, and the individuals who were working were definitely saying yes to all of that."

Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, a Kansas City Democrat, told the Star that after confirming lawmakers were included, she went to the hotel, "especially because there's a current breakout right now," she said, citing a recent spike in cases among state lawmakers.

A short time later, Dana Rademan Miller, the chief clerk and administrator for the Missouri House, sent out a notice clarifying that the vaccinations were not for lawmakers and their staff.

Marc Powers, Quade's chief of staff, said their office received calls Wednesday morning from employees of state agencies other than the DPS and MoDOT who said they had received shots and that the vaccinations were available to all state employees.

"At no time were any legislative employees told they were ineligible, even though the paperwork required them to identify the agency they worked for," Powers said. "Senate and House members and staffers from both parties were in the line."

Quade told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the confusion on Wednesday was emblematic of the problems with the vaccine effort, which has been slower nationally than expected.

"Even folks in Jefferson City don't know what's going on," she said. "The rollout has been ridiculous, and it's messy and we need some clear direction on how Missouri's going to get out of this."

The state health department on Thursday reported 1,636 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths from the disease, pushing its pandemic totals to 454,573 cases and 6,725 deaths.