COVID-19 doses go unused, some wasted at Missouri mass vaccination sites, data shows

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo — There are more questions about Missouri’s vaccination plan in light of a new report that shows the state may be sending too many vaccine doses to rural areas while urban parts like the KC metro are in need.

Missouri’s vaccine distribution plan centers around mass vaccination events set up in the nine Highway Patrol regions. The Kansas City metro is in Region A. 

So far, he state’s mass vaccination events in Region A have been held in rural parts of Region A, including Pettis, Benton and Henry counties. 

On Friday, FOX4 spoke to Independence Mayor Eileen Weir during a vaccination event at Independence Center. 

“The reason that we were able to get vaccine, because we were not included in the distribution from Region A, was because of leftover vaccine in other places that was collaborated, and then was re-dispersed,” she said. 

FOX4 requested information about vaccine distribution across Missouri and received numbers that show widespread excess in state-run rural mass vaccination clinics. Some doses even went to waste.

The Department of Public Safety provided data for the week of February 21-27. That week the state distributed 47,143 vaccines to 28 locations in the state, and 7,735 doses went unused and were reallocated. Additionally, 152 doses were wasted.

The most waste was from a mass vaccination clinic in Putnam County where 143 vaccine doses were tossed out.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be in several discussions with the governor about the plan,” Weir said. “And, you know, they put a plan into place and they are, you know, distributing according to that plan.”

Governor’s response

When asked about the seeming disparity between the amount of vaccines going to rural areas versus urban areas, the governor’s office sent the following statement: 

“The spreadsheet shows that almost 86% of the vaccines at the mass vaccination events were utilized at these events, which are designed to get vaccines into arms in areas without the health care infrastructure available in some urban areas. Unused doses at mass vaccination events are redistributed within the region so that additional vaccinations can occur, at local clinics, for example. The spreadsheet also shows a ‘wastage’ rate of about one-quarter of one percent, as reported to DHSS by county health departments for the period.

The mass vaccination events are an important part of Missouri’s comprehensive, multi-channel plan to vaccinate everyone in the state desiring a vaccination in an equitable manner. As you know, in addition to the mass vaccination events, the state supports targeted vaccination teams, which work to vaccinate communities with limited access to health care resources in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Missouri delivery channels and corresponding allocations through the week of March 22 are as follows:

  • High Throughput Health Centers: 35 percent
  • Mass Vaccination Events: 15 percent
  • Local Public Health Agencies: 15 percent
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers: 15 percent
  • Other Community/Enrolled Providers: 5 percent
  • Pharmacies: 15 percent (Starting next week, 15 percent of Missouri’s weekly vaccine allotment from the federal government will be allocated to the state’s pharmacy program.)

The state has identified 161 pharmacies in 84 counties based on ability, location, and population. These pharmacies have the ability to administer 200 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines per week and will consistently receive this number of doses in addition to booster doses for the next three to four weeks.

The Missouri Pharmacy Association will submit orders to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) on behalf of partnering pharmacies. Missourians are encouraged to use the state’s vaccinator map at MOStopsCOVID.com to find participating pharmacies in their area or reach out to local pharmacies directly.”

While the governor’s office denies vaccine disparity among regions, Missouri COVID Dashboard shows 12.1% of the population in Jackson County has been vaccinated while over 20% of the population has been vaccinated in more rural counties like Atchison, Benton, Carrol, Cape Girardeau and others. 

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