Missouri's 2nd batch of vaccine smaller than anticipated

JIM SALTER
Associated Press
FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, David Cheng, director of inpatient pharmacy, prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles. After a punishing fall that left hospital struggling, some Midwestern states are seeing a decline in new coronavirus cases. But the signs of improvement are offset by the infection's accelerating spread on both coasts.

O'FALLON — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday lauded the rollout of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, but it appears the second-week supply will be thousands of doses smaller than anticipated.

Missouri received about 51,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, and vaccinations of frontline health care workers began Monday. The state initially said it would get another 63,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week, as well as 105,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine if that version receives federal clearance.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said it now appears that Missouri's next batch of the Pfizer vaccine will be 25% to 30% less than originally expected. He said the variance was "not unanticipated" given the vast rollout nationwide, but he's still trying to determine from federal officials what changed.

Meanwhile, Parson, in response to a question at a news conference, seemed to indicate he wasn't sure if he would get vaccinated, but his spokeswoman later clarified that he planned to do so.

Parson and his wife are among the 353,038 Missourians who have contracted the virus. Both were diagnosed in September, and neither required hospitalization.

"You know, I've had COVID-19 so I think my personal view would be I would want to make sure a lot of other people got it (the vaccine) before I have it," Parson said. But as for himself, he added, "We'll make that decision as we move forward as it comes more available." It wasn't clear if he meant he wanted more information about the value of a COVID-19 survivor getting vaccinated.

Parson's spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, later said in an email that Parson "has full intentions of getting the COVID vaccine. Since he has already had COVID, however, he will wait until his age group is eligible to receive the vaccine according to the phases of Missouri's vaccine plan." Parson is 65.

Parson has declined to order a statewide mask mandate, though dozens of cities and counties accounting for more than half of Missouri's 6.1 million residents have implemented their own guidelines.

Deaths and hospitalizations have surged in recent weeks, but Parson said the numbers are "stabilizing" and lauded Missourians for taking personal responsibility during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"We are now well past the two-week mark since Thanksgiving and we are thankful that Missouri did not experience a surge in cases following the holiday," Parson said.

Missouri reported 45 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 4,799. The state also reported 2,673 new cases.

Cities and counties are increasingly cracking down on people and businesses who violate ordinances aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Springfield police on Monday wrote their first mask ordinance citation after a man inside a Panera Bread restaurant refused to wear a mask after being asked to do so several times. He was issued a $100 ticket.

Springfield began its mask requirement in July but until this week had given out educational information rather than tickets to suspected violators.

In St. Louis, Reign Restaurant was forced to close Tuesday after it was cited for its third violation of COVID-19 regulations. Four people were shot outside the restaurant Saturday night, and the attorney for restaurant owner Dana Kelly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the city was using the virus "as a pretense to take action" against the restaurant.