Vaccine deployment remains focus

Wednesday, January 13, 2021
AP File Photo

The federal government is the biggest constraint Missourians face in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but state officials who have been in contact with leaders in Washington D.C. believe change is on its way.

Poplar Bluff native Robert Knodell, Gov. Mike Parson’s deputy chief of staff, joined the weekly Butler County COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

Knodell has been tasked with heading up the vaccination efforts in Missouri.

“The vaccination of our citizens, we believe, represents the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis our country has faced,” Knodell said. “We believe with these vaccinations it is the best hope we have and the best opportunity we have to hopefully be able to turn the page on this issue.”

“Our promise to your community is this: We will allocate every single vaccine we get across the state, as quickly as we get it, to as many communities as possible,” Knodell said.

Thus far in Missouri, Knodell said, “we have seen over 165,000 first doses of the COVID vaccine administered in our state. That is first doses and we’ve seen an additional, roughly 15,000 second doses reported as being administered. When I use those numbers, I stress that is reported because we understand that thousands are being conducted every day. There can sometimes be a lag in that data reporting. I always say those are approximate numbers, those are the minimum numbers.

“Our state is receiving approximately 73,000 doses per week of the vaccine from the federal government. Those are first doses and roughly half of those are the Pfizer vaccine, roughly half of those are of the Moderna vaccine,” Knodell said.

About half of those are being allocated to the federal pharmacy Long-Term Care partnership that is vaccinating nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and the other half have been administered to health care workers in the state which are in phase 1A.

Knodell said the state is asking vaccinators to be ready for increases, and to prepare the communities because, “we’re only going to be successful in this vaccination effort if individuals are willing to take the vaccine. It is proven to be safe. It is proven to have very few side effects.”

He recommended promoting state websites dispelling myths, and providing facts for those members of the public who have questions or concerns.

“We really ask in exchange for our commitment to get out this supply, as we move into phases that reflect the broader population of our state, that your vaccinators be prepared. We ask you communicate to the public on how important it is that folks be willing to take the vaccine if at all possible, because that’s how we will reach a level of immunity that will allow us to put this behind us,” he said.

“We always really appreciate the partnership of Poplar Bluff and Butler County, who are well represented in the governor’s office; your leaders are on a first-name basis with key state leaders, and we value that partnership. We value that friendship, and we hope that continues. And we’re just going to continue to lean on you and to provide the resources that you need throughout this COVID-19 crisis,” Knodell said.

Phase 1B would include over 1.5 million Missourians, Knodell said, which is part of the drive to receive more doses. The state is receiving between 72,000-73,000 a week.

“Right now we’re waiting for further clarity from the federal government, but again, they’ve told us that is coming in the very near future. They are asking us to make plans and to prepare for the broader vaccinations, especially amongst those aged 65 and over and those who have health comorbidities,” he said.

Other vaccines made by AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, and Johnson and Johnson may be approved by the FDA in February or March. He suggested getting the medical professionals behind gaining the public’s trust in the vaccine.

Amanda Fitzwater of the Butler County Health Department announced 14 new cases Wednesday, with the total cases in Butler County at 3,828 since March.

“We’re finishing up our round of COVID vaccines that we had received and doing education on Facebook,” Fitzwater said.

After this round, the health center staff will be gearing up for the second doses of the vaccine.

The local health department is registering people for the vaccine and testing.

The health department is working with the state Department of Health and Senior Services on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to the area.

The health department can take registrations online to make appointments to receive a vaccine at:

Those looking to register for the vaccine can go to

The health department is administering vaccines based on the four phase plan given out by the state: 1A is long-term care facility staff and residents as well as health care providers with direct patient contact; 1B is high risk individuals 18-64, those 65 or older, first responders and essential workers; 2B is increased risk population such as the homeless and those in prison; 3 is all Missouri residents.

“At this time, Missouri has chosen to move from phase to phase as a state,” the release said. “Therefore, Butler County cannot move onto the next phase until the whole state is ready to move forward. Unfortunately, there is no set timeline on when Butler County will start administering to those in 1B.”

Once, the health department does move forward, the staff will inform the community through various media outlets.

For more information on the COVID19 vaccine and the Missouri State Vaccination Plan, visit