Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced the second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, expanding inoculations to first responders, high-risk residents, and those 65 and older.
Parson said the U.S. government is planning to "significantly" increase vaccine shipments next week, and the extra doses should allow the state to start "Phase 1B."
“The more supply we receive, the quicker we can reach our goal of making vaccines available to every Missourians who wants one,” Parson said in a statement.
Vaccinations in Phase 1A focused on health care workers and nursing homes.
Parson activated the first part of 1B on Thursday, which focuses on law enforcement, firefighters and public health professionals, among others.
The second stage of 1B will start on Monday, and will aim to vaccinate those 65 and over, and those with pre-existing health conditions who are at increased risk for severe illness.
“We recognize and appreciate that there are a variety of individuals on the frontlines who have a greater risk of exposure each day they go to work,” Parson said.
State health department director Dr. Randall Williams issued a statewide health order outlining specifics.
First responders and others in the first tier of Phase 1B should work through their employer to access the vaccine. Those in the second stage should contact their local pharmacy or health care provider or visit MOStopsCovid.com to learn when vaccines may be available and how to receive them.
The state on Friday will list vaccinators at www.MOstopsCovid.com.
“We know one of the most common questions among Missourians right now is when it will be their turn to be vaccinated,” Williams said. “And we are greatly encouraged by the interest in the vaccines from the public.”
Missouri's seven-day average of COVID-19 cases declined for the third day in a row on Thursday, following a two-week uptick.
Missouri reported 2,780 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, up from 2,060 the day before.
The seven-day average of new cases fell to 2,790, from 2,962 the day before, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis, marking the the third consecutive day of decline. Before that, for two weeks the average had risen, from 2,186 on Dec. 28 to 3,147 on Monday.
The Department of Health and Senior Services reported 2,614 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide, up from 2,545 the day before. Hospitalizations have remained on a high plateau since late November, with the seven-day average fluctuating between 2,600 and 2,800. Missouri hospitalization data lags three days, and not every hospital reports every day.
The state also reported 30 more deaths due to the virus.