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Health officials announce vaccine distribution plan

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Select hospitals across Missouri will receive just over half of the state’s weekly allocation of COVID-19 vaccinations in February in an effort to achieve consistent and effective distribution, state health officials said Monday.

The hospitals have the capacity to each administer 5,000 vaccine doses per week, but the number of vaccines the hospitals receive will be determined by population in the region. Weekly vaccine delivery will rotate between the hospitals and their partners, according to a news release from the Missouri Hospital Association and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“The hospitals included in the first phase of this plan were selected for their ability to rapidly begin community vaccination efforts on a large scale,” said Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the hospital association. “Beginning [Monday] — and continuing as vaccines arrive in the days and weeks ahead — hospitals will be sharing how community members can sign up for their vaccine.”

The state will send 53 percent of its nearly 76,000 weekly vaccine doses to the hospitals. Another 23 percent will go to regional mass vaccination events in partnership with local groups and the Missouri National Guard. Eight percent will be allocated to local public health agencies, and another 8 percent will go to federally qualified health centers.

The remaining 8 percent will go to any other enrolled providers, or “community providers,” asking for the vaccine. Hospitals not included on the list released Monday are considered community providers. The list of providers will expand as the state receives more vaccine.

St. Louis officials are meanwhile looking into concerns raised after young and healthy people were invited to a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, but older people with chronic health conditions were not.

The clinic was set up Saturday at Union Station. Jessi Kniffen, a healthy 39-year-old who works from home, said she was surprised when she got the invitation on Friday. Kniffen thought she would have a much longer wait, because the early shots are supposed to be for people age 65 or older, with chronic health conditions or with jobs that put them at high risk.

“I was surprised by it, but filled out the form and got vaccinated because we’ve been told that when you get a chance to be vaccinated that you should,” Kniffen said. “I didn’t know if I turned down this opportunity, if I would get booted from the city’s vaccination list.”

Others who are elderly or have underlying health conditions reported not getting an invitation despite having registered with the city.

Marva Borders, 68, has sarcoidosis, hypertension and heart issues. She lives within walking distance of Union Station but wasn’t invited, said her daughter, Dorris Scott.

Scott, 36, volunteered in the trial for the Pfizer vaccine.

“As a family, we have done all we can, and it is frustrating that our vulnerable groups are not getting the information that we need,” Scott said.

About 1,800 people were inoculated at Union Station, the site of the city’s first large-scale vaccination event.

Sixth Alderman Christine Ingrassia said she had heard from 20 to 30 people who received vaccines at the event and later figured out they were not yet eligible under state guidelines.

Mayor Lyda Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said that the city was looking into those concerns but that city leaders felt the event had been a “tremendous success.” Aldermen said at least two city committees were investigating rollout problems.

As of Monday, Missouri has reported 459,597 confirmed cases of the virus, and 6,748 deaths. The city of St. Louis had 19,044 confirmed cases and 351 deaths from the virus. staff contributed to this report.

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