ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri isn’t vaccinating people quickly enough to create widespread immunity by this summer, health experts say.
To produce enough immunity to COVID-19 to make the virus unlikely to spread widely, officials want to inoculate between 70 percent and 85 percent of the state’s residents. That means getting between 4.3 million and 5.2 million people immunized.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that just 205,000 Missourians, or about 3 percent of the population, had received the first doses of vaccine.
“We need more,” said Dr. Steven Lawrence, an infectious disease expert at Washington University. “We need speed. We need as much as we can to really end the pandemic.”
BJC HealthCare’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Clay Dunagan estimates that vaccinating 5 million residents by the end of June would require 25,000 to 30,000 vaccinations per day. Over the past week, Missouri has been averaging less than 11,000 per day, according to the state.
The pace of vaccinations will almost certainly accelerate as more doses of vaccines become available and more vaccines are approved, but it’s not yet clear how quickly that will happen.
Dr. Alex Garza, chief community health officer at SSM Health and incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said it didn’t seem realistic right now for the state to administer roughly 30,000 vaccine doses a day.