JEFFERSON CITY – Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has significantly dropped in recent weeks, so the Missouri National Guard has begun cutting back its involvement at mass vaccination sites. All Guardsmen will be released from the sites by June 1.
“We are in a far different situation today than we were just a couple months ago,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. “In the beginning, vaccine demand far outweighed vaccine supply. Now, we are seeing the reverse of that, and the need for large-scale vaccination events has lessened.
“Missouri is in a good place on the vaccine front, and that is thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of our National Guard members to get vaccines into the arms of Missourians,” Parson added.
State-supported vaccination teams have held hundreds of vaccine clinics and given more than 382,000 vaccines – nearly 10 percent of all the doses across Missouri.
The Guard will continue its Targeted Vaccination Teams in St. Louis and Kansas City, where members go to the homes of people who can’t travel to a site. Guard members will also continue to help with the Department of Health and Senior Services’ COVID-19 Hotline and work at food banks and food pantries.
Currently scheduled state-supported vaccination events in May will still be held, but the Guard will be stepping back. Local partners and volunteers recruited by the State Emergency Management Agency, along with AmeriCorps, FEMA vaccinators and the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team, will fill in as needed.
Instead of mass vaccination programs, the effort is shifting to health care systems, pharmacies, local public health agencies and other community providers providing walk-up availability and extended hours.
Data show that 80 percent of Missourians have access to a COVID-19 vaccine from local providers within a five-mile radius of home.
Parson touted the high number of those providers.
“Vaccines are readily available all across the state, and Missourians can often walk right into their local pharmacy and receive a shot,” he said. “With universal vaccine availability and decreased interest at our mass vaccination events, scaling back our state-supported teams is the right decision for the most efficient use of our resources.”
He added: “We will continue to educate Missourians on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine so that those who have not yet chosen to be vaccinated may join the millions of other Missourians who have.”
More than 4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Missouri, nearly 2.4 million have initiated vaccination, and more than 1.8 million have been fully vaccinated.
Of Missourians 65 and older – some of the most vulnerable Missourians – nearly 66 percent have been fully vaccinated, and 76 percent have received at least one dose.
Missourians can visit MOStopsCOVID.com for more information about the vaccine or call the Missouri COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 for more information. Residents can also use VaccineFinder.org to find vaccinators in their area with available vaccine and specific vaccine type.