JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The first shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Missouri.
“Today is an exciting day for Missouri as we have received the first of many shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Gov. Mike Parson. “We have been preparing for many months and will soon begin administering vaccines according to our COVID-19 vaccine plan. We appreciate the tireless work of our scientists, health care workers, state and private partners, and everyone who has helped get us to this point. It is truly remarkable how far we’ve come since the start of this pandemic, and we are very encouraged to now have a verifiably safe and effective vaccine.”
The two-dose vaccine, the template for which was developed at a Pfizer facility in Chesterfield, was approved for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday after extensive testing. The shipments put development in line with the state’s COVID-19 plan, which projected the vaccine would be distributed by the end of the year.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams signed off on the standing order for the distribution of the vaccine Monday. Williams said his team had spent the weekend working with members of the CDC to finalize distribution plans over the weekend.
“Their recommendations are very comprehensive and carefully considered and are reflected in the statewide order issued today by DHSS,” Williams said. “We encourage Missourians to take time to learn about the vaccine, get their questions answered, and consider vaccination to help protect themselves and their loved ones. Together, we can strengthen our communities against this virus.”
One shipment went to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City this morning, the facility confirmed on social media.
Precious cargo arrived at TMC/UH this morning! As outlined by the federal and state governments, these are slated to go to our frontline staff who have been selflessly helping patients battling COVID. #COVID19 #CovidVaccine #COVID pic.twitter.com/g8z2XPu1oP
— TrumanMedicalCenters (@TrumanMedKC) December 14, 2020
Shipments of the vaccine are to be distributed to Missouri’s 21 vaccination sites. As hospitals receive their shipments, the first part of the state’s vaccination plan will begin.
Around 50,000 doses were included in the first shipment.
Missouri is also expected to receive more than 100,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine next week.
The state will take a phased approach to distribute the vaccine: The first round of vaccines will go to health care facilities, starting with long-term care facility staff and other health care workers. As availability increases, the state intends to spread its focus to the elderly and those at higher risk of serious complications due to preexisting health conditions.
The vaccine will be distributed to schools and “critical businesses” at the same time, with the final phase of distribution opening access to the general public.
Missouri submitted its distribution plan to the CDC in October. The state ran an “all hands on deck” distribution drill earlier this month in anticipation of the vaccine’s approval.
Dr. Christine Smith, head of the Chesterfield site, told reporters last month more than 2,000 Missourians worked on developing the vaccine, and many of those involved in the trials were from Missouri as well.