Governor Parson announces Missouri National Guard to scale back COVID-19 vaccine support

Missouri National Guard
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As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has significantly decreased in recent weeks, Governor Mike Parson announced the Missouri National Guard (MONG) has begun scaling back its involvement at mass vaccination site locations in May. The drawdown of National Guard members is set to be completed by June 1, 2021.

“We are in a far different situation today than we were just a couple of months ago. In the beginning, vaccine demand far outweighed vaccine supply. Now, we see the reverse of that, and the need for large-scale vaccination events has lessened,” Governor Parson said. “Missouri is in a good place on the vaccine front, and that is thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of our National Guard members to get vaccines into the arms of Missourians. We couldn’t be more thankful for the hard work of these dedicated men and women over the past several months.”

State-supported vaccination teams have conducted hundreds of vaccine clinics and administered more than 382,000 vaccines, representing nearly 10 percent of total vaccines administered across Missouri. 

Recently, state-supported vaccination teams and other vaccinators have experienced sharp reductions in COVID-19 vaccine demand – a trend that is occurring across the nation. As a result, the state has begun a phased approach to reduce state-supported lines of effort, particularly those utilizing the MONG. 

The MONG will continue the work of its Targeted Vaccination Teams in St. Louis and Kansas City. Guard members will also continue to assist in staffing the Department of Health and Senior Services’ COVID-19 Hotline and provide support for Missouri food banks and food pantries. 

There are no plans to cancel currently scheduled state-supported vaccination events in May. However, operations will begin to shift so that a full withdraw of MONG members can be achieved by June 1. Local partners, along with AmeriCorps, FEMA vaccinators, and the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team, will assist as needed with assignments previously filled by Guard members. 

The State Emergency Management Agency will continue to supply PPE for local events and will also continue its efforts in providing clinical and non-clinical volunteers as needed for local events. 

The state is also working with vaccinators across Missouri, including health care systems, pharmacies, local public health agencies, and other community providers, to promote more convenience-driven vaccine options for Missourians like walk-up availability and extended hours of operation. 

Data shows that 80 percent of Missourians have access to a COVID-19 vaccine within a five-mile radius of where they reside. This is due to the vast network of local vaccine providers across the state of Missouri. 

“Vaccines are readily available all across the state, and Missourians can often walk right into their local pharmacy and receive a shot. With universal vaccine availability and decreased interest at our mass vaccination events, scaling back our state-supported teams is the right decision for the most efficient use of our resources,” Governor Parson said. “We will continue to educate Missourians on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine so that those who have not yet chosen to be vaccinated may join the millions of other Missourians who have.”

In total, more than 4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Missouri, nearly 2.4 million Missourians have initiated vaccination, and more than 1.8 million Missourians have been fully vaccinated. Missouri’s dashboard shows that over 38 percent of all Missourians have initiated vaccination, and nearly 50 percent of Missourians 18 and older have received at least one dose. 

Of Missourians 65 and older – some of the most vulnerable Missourians – nearly 66 percent have been fully vaccinated, and 76 percent have received at least one dose.

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