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Missouri residents now have a better view of what potential vaccine distribution could look like in the state.

At his weekly briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson announced that an 111-page vaccine response plan had been submitted that afternoon to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan, which the state began forming July 9, will be reviewed by the CDC and feedback is expected by Oct. 29.

The state hopes to have the first COVID-19 vaccines in Missouri in late November or early December, and the goal is for a vaccine to be available to all Missouri residents by April, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said.

There is a great deal of uncertainty on any timeframe. Two major vaccine trials have recently been delayed after so-far unexplained sickness among participants. Williams said framers of the plan factored in uncertainty.

“We’re prepared for what comes our way,” Williams said.

A three-phase approach

The plan outlines three phases of vaccine distribution. Phase one, which will be while the state has a limited amount of the vaccine, will be focused on Missouri’s most vulnerable communities. This will include health care workers and those working in longterm care facilities.

Phase two will be a broader group, including people who were eligible for phase one vaccinations but didn’t receive them and some members of the general population.

Phase three will focus on large-scale vaccination efforts for anyone not already vaccinated under phases one and two. The end goal is to provide a vaccine at no cost to every Missouri resident who wants to be vaccinated. However, charges for administration of the vaccine may occur, Williams said.

Parson said he would not mandate vaccination, just as he has not mandated mask use statewide.

“I think you have to be very careful, in this position, the power you use and when you use it,” Parson said.

Parson and Williams stressed that the plan was born out of collaboration between many state and federal agencies.

“This has been an incredible collaborative effort, and I want to thank all of the agencies and partners involved for their hard work and dedication,” Parson said.

Williams also addressed the logistical challenges of a vaccine. Three of the four major vaccines in clinical trial require cold storage and two injections taken at different times. He said the plan anticipates the need for cold storage and tracking of patients.

Brig. Gen. Levon E. Cumpton of the Missouri National Guard said the guard will continue to aid in COVID-19 logistics, along with assisting with civil unrest and their military commitments overseas.

Parson also encouraged Missouri residents to receive a seasonal flu vaccine as part of efforts to lessen potential strain on hospitals.

Saliva testing machines unveiled in Kansas City

The governor referenced an event he attended earlier Thursday morning: the unveiling a new COVID-19 saliva testing machine at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City. At the briefing, Parson said three more machines would soon be up and running in different areas of the state, including one in central Missouri.

There is already a machine at Washington University that serves the St. Louis area. The saliva test, approved by the FDA in August, was developed by the university.

Parson said the machines mark another milestone in the state’s testing procedures. Last week, the state passed two million tests performed, though that includes instances of individuals receiving multiple tests.

Followers of the state’s COVID-19 dashboard may have noticed there was recently a large spike in cases, followed by the page going down. Parson said that was due to an error, which has been corrected.

“The issue was a technology issue in the system,” Parson said. “The data was not lost.”

Williams urged Missouri residents to have faith in the data released by the state, attributing errors to the complexity of the healthcare system.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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