Missouri’s COVD-19 vaccination plan has come under fire lately due to a vaccine shortage. Although the tiered process prioritizes the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions, its efficacy continues to face criticism.
Large metropolitan areas are facing a shortage of resources, in particular the St. Louis metropolitan area, which only received 17 percent of the state’s allocation of vaccines but represents 37 percent of Missouri’s total population. As a result, experts have expressed concern over the lack of vaccines and worry about the health implications this vaccine shortage has for at-risk individuals.
The vaccine deserts further exacerbate the difficulty public officials face when trying to distribute the vaccine. Several counties in St. Louis have expressed difficulty in making the vaccine accessible to those without transportation, internet access and lack of information about the vaccine.
Missouri’s difficulties in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine are not unique to the state. All over the United States. there have been vaccine shortages. Miscommunication between state officials and local communities has caused issues by failing to provide accurate details about vaccine shipments to counties and disagreements about vaccination recommendations.
President Biden stated that the U.S. purchased enough vaccines for every adult but expressed frustration over the lack of infrastructure for vaccine distribution by citing the previous administration’s lack of preparation and spread false information surrounding the vaccine.
Distrust of the vaccine negatively impacted the rate of vaccinations in Black and Brown communities, as structural racism still impacts healthcare access and distrust in a flawed system. Officials are now tasked with developing methods to reach and serve these underrepresented populations.
To combat Missouri’s issues with the vaccine shortage, state officials stated that hospital systems will receive higher allotments of doses, as well as host more mass vaccination events. The federal government has added new locations that were chosen to be more accessible to the public, particularly local pharmacies that have a relationship of trust with local communities.
In response to the criticism, Governor Mike Parson defended Missouri’s plan. He stated, “We’re trying to do the best we can for everybody, and it’s an impossible balancing act.”