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J&J vaccinations to start Wednesday in Missouri

(AP) — Missouri vaccinators are expected to receive the first 50,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, and the state’s health director said the shots could start as soon as the doses arrive.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Saturday. Nearly 4 million doses of the one-shot vaccine are now being shipped across the U.S. Some states expected to begin injections Tuesday, but Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox said Monday that the first doses in Missouri were expected a day later.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said in a news release that hospitals, local public health agencies, federally qualified health centers and mass vaccination clinics would get the vaccine “so local providers can help determine which populations could be best served with a single-dose regimen.”

The new vaccine is the third approved to fight the coronavirus. The White House is encouraging Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufacturer. Missouri’s health director, Dr. Randall Williams, agreed.

“The best COVID-19 vaccine you can get is the one you are able to get the soonest after becoming eligible,” Williams said. “The scientific evidence shows that the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine does a great job at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, which is the main goal for COVID-19 vaccines.”

The additional vaccine comes as thousands of residents in Missouri’s two biggest urban areas are signing up and traveling to rural areas in hopes of getting shots that remain elusive in St. Louis and Kansas City and their surrounding counties. Social media sites share information about rural spots where vaccine may be plentiful.

Among them was tiny Leopold in southeastern Missouri. Last week, a state-sponsored mass vaccination event at the Knights of Columbus had 2,000 doses available – far more than were needed by the roughly 65 residents or those in surrounding Bollinger County

“ANYONE can go get the COVID vaccine at the Knights of Columbus. The health department has opened it up to anyone to avoid wasting the vaccine,” KFVS-TV reporter Alayna Chapie wrote on Facebook last Wednesday.

Some of the vaccine at Leopold went unused but wasn’t wasted, Cox said. It was redistributed to other nearby vaccination sites.

Missouri reported 192 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, and no new deaths. The state has cited 478,416 confirmed cases and 7,919 deaths since the onset of the pandemic. The city of St. Louis has had 19,902 confirmed cases, 1,577 probable cases and 424 deaths.

MetroSTL.com staff contributed to this report.

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