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Missouri to activate next vaccine tier on March 15

Activating Missouri's Phase 1B-Tier 3 will make the vaccine available to an additional 550,000 Missourians

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that the next tier in its COVID-19 vaccine plan will open in the state on Monday, March 15.

Missouri's Phase 1B-Tier 3 will make the vaccine available to an additional 550,000 Missourians.

Gov. Parson said Tier 3 includes an important part of the state's population, including "workers in many of the industries we depend on to keep our everyday lives operating normally."

Phase 1B-Tier 3 focuses on vaccinating what the state classifies as its “critical infrastructure”. It includes teachers, childcare providers, grocery store employees and those who work in the food and agriculture industries.

Phase 1B-Tier 3 includes:

  • Education: Teachers, faculty and staff in public, private and nonprofit preK-12
  • Childcare: Faculty and staff in a DHSS or DSS-licensed facility providing basic care to children 
  • Communications sector: Employees at public, private or nonprofit organizations that provide communications services 
  • Dams sector: Employees at public, private or nonprofit organizations that provide services in the dams sector related to critical water retention and control services
  • Energy sector: Employees at public, private or nonprofit organizations that provide energy services, regardless of the energy source 
  • Food/Agriculture sector I: Employees of certain food production and processing facilities and related operations, prioritizing mass food production, distribution, transportation, wholesale and retail sales, including grocery and convenience stores where groceries are sold; includes veterinary services 
  • Government: Elected officials in any branch of government at the state, county and/or municipal levels required for the continuity of government; members of the judiciary at the federal, state and/or local levels required for the continuity of government; employees designated by the federal government that fall within the state’s vaccine allocation responsibilities; other designated government personnel required for the continuity of government. 
  • Information technology sector: Employees at public, private or nonprofit organizations that provide IT services
  • Nuclear reactors, materials and waste sector: Employees at public, private or nonprofit organizations that work in this sector
  • Transportation systems sector: Employees in the transportation systems sector including aviation, highway and motor carriers, maritime transportation systems, mass transit and passenger rail, pipeline systems, freight rail and postal shipping 
  • Water and wastewater systems sector: Employees at public, private and/or nonprofit organizations that provide drinking or wastewater services

See full details about the vaccine plan on Missouri's COVID-19 vaccine website.

Jennings school district was one of the first to return to the classroom, installing plexiglass barriers when they tested in-person learning over summer school.

Superintendent Art McCoy said their mitigation measures have proven effective. Of the 19 staff members to catch COVID, only two got it on the job, and now they're planning for vaccination clinics.

"Teachers are excited and asking 'Doc, when you gonna have some vaccines for us?' So we're looking at schools where hospitals can come to do vaccinations on site," McCoy said.

Demand for vaccines remains high, while the supply remains low — but growing. Gov. Parson said the decision to activate the next tier is all about being proactive in the fight against the virus. He also said this will ensure that all communities continue administering the vaccine to people who want to get it.

Gov. Parson said with Phase 3 activated, there will be 3.5 million Missourians eligible to get the vaccine, which includes those who already have received their first or second doses.

The governor also explained another reason the state is opening up the next tier is that about 40% of those who are eligible "will not seek a vaccine."

“For now, we ask that vaccinators work in their communities to plan for March 15," Parson said. "We want this to be a smooth process, and it will be up to vaccinators to start planning now so that Tier 3 populations are ready."

As for when Missouri will move to Phase 2, Gov. Parson said he expects that to be activated by the end of April. He cautioned that could change if supply or other conditions veer off the projected course.

"If vaccine supply continues to increase, and if we continue to make the progress we’ve been seeing, we believe that we will be ready to activate Phase 2 within 45 days of March 15,” the governor said.

You can watch Gov. Parson's full announcement from Thursday in the YouTube video below.

Missouri is currently in Phase 1B-Tier 2 of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, which went into effect on Jan. 18. This phase includes high-risk populations and everyone who is 65 and older.

Phase 1B-Tier 2 includes:

  • Anyone 65 and older
  • Adults with the following conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome
    • Heart conditions
    • Weakened immune system due to organ transplant
    • Severe obesity (BMI > 40)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

According to Missouri’s vaccine dashboard, the state has administered a total of 1,129,416 vaccine doses through Wednesday. This includes 756,334 people who’ve received their first dose and 373,082 people who have received their second dose.

The state’s dashboard indicates 12.3% of Missourians have received at least one dose, and 6.1% have received two doses.

If you would like more information on how to get on a vaccine waitlist in your community, read 5 On Your Side's complete vaccination guide with links, phone numbers and the latest on mass vaccine events in your area. 

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