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Pfizer's Missouri R&D plant in Chesterfield.

Missouri officials ready to begin vaccinations when approved

There’s a Missouri connection to the Pfizer effort on combating Covid. If the company’s promising new coronavirus vaccine is approved, Missouri health officials are ready to begin vaccinations immediately.

Dr. Randal Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, updated the House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention on how a vaccine would arrive and be administered in phase one of the plan, which could reach 250,000 of the most vulnerable citizens.

Pfizer is a frontrunner to get Emergency Use Authorization in the novel virus vaccine development and would be distributing the product from its Chesterfield, Mo., research and development facility. That improves the shelf life of the vaccine, which must be kept chilled at minus-94 degrees and can be removed from that temperature only four times. The vaccine will be sent in batches every seven days.

“We’re incredibly thankful it’s in Chesterfield,” Williams said. “I’m very hopeful that we can move through phase one with the Pfizer vaccine alone pretty efficiently.”

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Phase one delivers vaccinations to the most vulnerable in the population and those who care for them: Williams said he is has been speaking with Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, who also is overseeing the vaccine’s logistics, and that he is pleased with the state’s plan.

The department has identified five hospital sites to administer the vaccine but has not yet announced the names. “We’re working with them to see how exactly they would administer to people who are coming in, for instance, from long-term care facilities, to receive their vaccination,” Williams said.

Speaking on how Missouri vaccinations will work, Committee Chairman Jonathan Patterson asked, “We’ll have to bus in people from long-term care facilities to get the vaccine?”

“They will have to transport them, we will get them there to get it, yes,” Williams said.

–Dwight Widman | Metro Voice