Some COVID-19 vaccinations may be delayed in St. Louis County because the state is not providing the number of doses it had promised, county health officials said.
Early last week, the county was promised 3,900 vaccine doses directly from the state for use this week. But on Friday, the state said it would not be sending the doses as expected, county health officials said in a news release Monday.
It was the third week in a row the county did not receive vaccination doses directly from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services. It has been using doses received through redistribution from local hospitals but that has not provided nearly as many vaccines as the county expected.
The county, which opened several mass vaccination sites in anticipation of receiving weekly doses, is prepared to vaccinate more than 5,000 people a week but might have to pause vaccinations and reschedule or cancel appointments because of the lack of doses, officials said.
The unexpected loss of doses makes it difficult to plan vaccinations and to communicate with thousands of people who are anxiously awaiting the shots, said County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
“More importantly,” Page said, “it puts at further risk the population DPH serves, including people who are uninsured or underinsured, people who do not have a primary care physician, and others who are uniquely at-risk and vulnerable to COVID-19. Many of the people who need the vaccine the most simply will not have access to the vaccine.”
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday the state had tried to directly order 3,900 doses for the county, but now intends to get it those doses through a redistribution. She did not explain the change.
Missouri reported Tuesday that 716,0389 people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is about 8.9% of the state’s population. A total of 467,313 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began, with 7,149 deaths — an increase of 649 cases and six deaths from the previous day.