Update from the Capitol

Don Mayhew
Don Mayhew

State newspapers such as the Saint Louis Post Dispatch are reporting that Missouri is 44/50 states with rolling out of vaccines. I have been assured by the Governor’s office that the figure quoted is inaccurate. It may be. Unfortunately, in my District it certainly appears that we are 50/50. The good news is that at Phelps County Regional Hospital they have completed Phase 1 of the vaccination process. Phase 1 is getting nurses, doctors and other critical staff protected with the vaccination.

We are about 50% complete with the first round of vaccinations for first responders. The Hospital was able to also provide doses to many people who had pre-registered and met other qualifications (people over 65 who had other risk factors). Unfortunately, it is still unclear how the process will work for our nursing homes and the public. I have been in frequent contact with the Governor’s office on this matter and I do understand the many challenges with getting a bureaucracy to respond quickly to extraordinary circumstances. The Governor has promised to employ the National Guard to aid in the vaccination process. I applaud that decision. However mobilizing the Guard takes time and resources. Especially when we have so many of them we are still trying to get back from Washington DC where they were used, quite literally, simply for window dressing.

I have the utmost respect and confidence in the men and women that serve in our National and Missouri Guard. Their skill and professionalism is the best in the world and they have come through for us repeatedly in every crisis Missouri has faced. I have no doubt that they will perform superbly in this disaster also. I am, however, disappointed that the state did not consider first those Missourians in our area that already have the infrastructure, training and experience to help in this process. They have, at the request of the Governor, been preparing for this at least since it was announced that the vaccine was ready for distribution. I cannot speak for the rest of the State, but in the 121 District there are local pharmacies and national chain pharmacies plus the capabilities of the Regional Hospital all of which have assured me that they are ready, willing, and able to administer as many doses as can be sent their way. No mobilization required.

I have had folks from the local pharmacies and the Hospital tell me that they are fully prepared to drive their own properly equipped vehicle to Jefferson City or anywhere else to pick up the vaccines and transport them to Rolla and distribute them from there. There are pharmacies and clinics that are well distributed throughout the area and will, by virtue of this widespread distribution, prevent the long lines and other problems we are seeing with the rollout in other states. The have already been pre-registering and classifying people for when the vaccine.

The centralized “parking lot” vaccination centers, while perhaps necessary in some areas, with their long lines and people turned away do to shortages, are not necessary in our area. We may get to that point but I think we are “money ahead” if we utilize the infrastructure that we already have in place first and then prepare the Guard to do what they do best: respond to the critical areas that lack the proper infrastructure. Much of the problem with the Pfizer vaccine is its special transportation requirements and the short window of time that it can be administered after removing from storage. It typically has a high percentage of waste. I would also like to point out that Phelps County Regional Hospital was able to give over 2000 doses with zero waste. This is impressive! I think this proves that we have the capability, in our area, to effectively manage a vaccination program. Americans and especially Missourians have proven time and again our ability to “get-r-done”. Please, Governor Parson, get us the vaccines and we will “get-r-done”!

This week, the House voted for an income tax deduction for foster care parents ($2,500 for individuals and $5,000). Foster parents are living saints and should be commended for stepping up and opening their homes to children who oftentimes arrive with virtually nothing of their own. Foster parents not only provide a safe and loving home, but also food, clothing, and other necessities for these children. While it is true they would do this without the tax break, it serves as a long overdue “thank you” to those that make significant sacrifices to provide a home for the children who have nowhere else to go

If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

- Rep. Don Mayhew, District 121