COLUMBIA - A shortage in COVID-19 vaccines is expected to hit Missouri this week as Phase 3 continues, but health officials say Boone County won't be as impacted.
Approximately 1.1 million Missourians were added to the eligibility list, marking nearly 4.5 million Missourians now eligible to be vaccinated.
The shortage will mainly come from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As first reported by the Biden Administration on Friday, only 700,000 doses of this vaccine will be distributed this week compared to the 4.9 million distributed last week. This is an 80% decrease in distribution alone.
In Missouri, 206,430 doses were received for the week of April 5-11. This week, the state anticipates roughly 157,040 doses in total. According to Columbia Missourian reporting, Missouri vaccine providers were told on a call that the state would receive 160,460 fewer Pfizer doses, 112,800 fewer Moderna doses and 77,900 fewer Johnson & Johnson doses.
The cause for this shortage is primarily due to manufacturing problems within the company. Nearly 15 million doses were ruined after a Baltimore plant mixed up ingredients for two COVID-19 vaccines.
Director of the public health division of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Adam Crumbliss told the St. Louis Dispatch that Missouri wouldn't see an immediate impact. During last week's call with vaccinators, Crumbliss said though they would like to have assurance that those numbers would never change or drop, there are several factors that impact shipments.
However, mid-Missouri will not be as affected by this news in comparison to other cities and counties. Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services' Health Educator Ashton Day said they do not carry the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, like they do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“We did not anticipate getting any Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” Day said. “We haven't used any of it yet, but it could unfortunately affect our vaccination rates, if a lot of people are holding off until they get that that Johnson & Johnson shot.”
The Columbia/Boone County health department encourages anyone looking to get the vaccine to get whichever is available.
By doing so, the department does not think this will affect the vaccination rates in the county. Day said that all of the vaccines are effective, so unless you do have severe allergies to one of the vaccines, go and get one of them.
“We do encourage everyone to just take whatever shot is the first available to them unless they are allergic to a specific ingredient and one of the other vaccines,” Day said. “And so that may be something people want to consider.”
Looking toward the future, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is something that the health department looks to use once the supply shortage is resolved.
Day said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a great way to increase the vaccination rate in Boone County. The county currently leads the state in initiated vaccination rate, with over 38%.
“We think it would be really beneficial for vaccinating our homeless population or those in jail,” said Day. “But unfortunately, you know, we may have to wait on that or more likely use other vaccines.”
The supply shortage for the COVID-19 vaccine will start next week, but for mid-Missouri residents, availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still high.