While research and development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines continues to advance, showing promising results, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of a new vaccine website for Missouri residents on Tuesday.
The website, MOStopsCOVID.com, intends to Missourians with information regarding the safety of the vaccines, research and production processes, and when they may be eligible for vaccination. The website will also offer additional functionality as vaccines become available.
“It’s been remarkable to learn about the work that has been going on for many months now among scientists and researchers, many of whom are right here in Missouri,” Parson said. “The most important thing we’ve learned about the accelerated development process is that steps have not been eliminated but are instead occurring simultaneously. Safety is not being sacrificed, and it’s important for Missourians to understand this.”
The website includes answers to common questions Missouri residents may have, such as when they will be able to receive the vaccine and how well it works. It also clarifies misinformation that citizens may have heard about the vaccines.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and partners across the state continue to make preparations in advance of a vaccine arrival, which DHSS anticipates by the end of 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has identified the purposes of a COVID-19 vaccine as: decrease death and serious disease, preserve functioning of society, reduce extra burden that COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities, and increase the chance for everyone to enjoy health and well-being.
A vaccine will initially become available in a limited quantity once it is proven safe and effective, approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA, and when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has provided its recommendations on the use of the vaccines, according to DHSS.
In August, a large group of more than 75 state team members, 10 Missouri National Guardsmen, and 50 federal and local partners began working together to develop Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccine response plan. The plan was finalized and submitted to the CDC in October.
“Missouri got a very early start preparing for vaccinations because we think it’s our best path to getting to a better place,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said. “This process is one that has continued to evolve, and we are committed to providing Missourians with the information they need as quickly as we can provide it. Information is empowering, and personal choices made during this public health emergency can positively impact yourself, those around you, and your entire community.”
According to the website, residents who are healthcare workers, essential workers or high risk can receive the vaccination in Phase 1. Residents in Phase 2 include those in the Phase 1 population and all Missouri residents, as availability increases. In Phase 3, the vaccine will be available to all Missouri residents.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine developments, visit MOStopsCOVID.com.
Also on Tuesday, physicians and nurses from the Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA) and the Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) once again urged Parson to implement a statewide mask requirement.
The state has seen 200,000 additional cases since they first made the request in July, and Parson has faced criticism from some Missourians and elected officials for not implementing a mask mandate.
“Our organizations remain in favor of a statewide mask requirement; however, due to the Governors hesitancy in implementing such an order, we sent him a letter last week presenting some other mitigation techniques that have been successful in other states,” according to the associations. “We hope that the Governor may find these actions more palatable.”
They asked the governor to wear a mask in public at all times to emphasize the personal responsibility mantra he has mentioned repeatedly during press conferences and on his social media accounts; encourage citizens to stay home regardless of whether they feel sick or have symptoms, and to only go places outside their homes when absolutely necessary, including limiting his own travel; encourage churches and other houses of worship to implement their own masking mandates, offer online services, and utilize social distancing measures; close bars and nightclubs, or, in the alternative, require them to cease operations at 10 p.m.; mandate reduced occupancy at health clubs and gyms, and restrict in-person classes; encourage Missourians to keep holiday gatherings small this season, and to restrict the sizes of indoor gatherings in general; recommend all citizens receive the flu vaccine this year; require restaurant service to take place through delivery, carryout, or curbside service only; and encourage businesses to not only adopt, but robustly enforce their own masking policies and to implement mitigation-friendly services such as curbside pickup.
“We strongly believe that statewide problems demand statewide solutions,” the letter said. “We hope these will serve as a starting point for the Parson administration in enacting statewide policies that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The frontline physicians and nurses who are battling this disease, and who are saving the lives of Missourians every day, urge the Governor to action now to help and support the healthcare workers and citizens statewide.”