COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Missouri National Guard, Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and local health care partners have now completed 18 mass vaccination clinics across the state. More than 38,400 Missourians have received an initial vaccine dose at one of these events.
DHSS also recently announced partnerships with selected hospitals in each region of the state to support high throughput vaccine distribution. The state is committing approximately 53 percent of weekly vaccine allocations from the federal government to the selected hospitals.
Last week alone, the St. Louis and Kansas City regions received 15,600 and 9,500 initial doses, respectively, through this partnership. This is in addition to doses other health care systems in these regions have received and is proportional to each region’s population.
Additionally, two targeted vaccination teams are operational in both St. Louis and Kansas City (four teams total). These teams have been deployed to help vaccinate critical populations in areas that are considered “vaccine deserts.” These populations face limited health care access, travel capacity constraints, and other disparities that inhibit access to vaccines.
Targeted vaccination teams have identified these populations and are working with local clergies to arrange initial vaccinations for up to 500 Missourians per team each week.
In addition to the state’s efforts, the federal government announced a new Federal Retail Pharmacy Program last week. This program will allocate a limited number of vaccines to a limited number of participating pharmacies across the nation.
Vaccine doses distributed to Missouri pharmacies will be in addition to the state’s weekly vaccine allotment. In Missouri, the federal government is partnering with Walmart and Health Mart pharmacies only. This week, 81 Walmart locations and 21 Health Mart locations across the state will begin receiving vaccines from the federal government. The state did not choose the pharmacies to which vaccines will be distributed.
To date, 965,800 first and second vaccine doses have been shipped to Missouri. Please note that the number of vaccines shipped does not equate to the number of vaccines received by state vaccinators. The 965,800 doses shipped includes vaccines allocated to CVS and Walgreens through the federal partnership to vaccinate residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Of these doses, 71.4 percent have been reported as administered.
Excluding vaccines shipped to CVS and Walgreens through the federal partnership, 609,860 first and second doses have been shipped to Missouri vaccinators as of February 8. Of these doses, 80.8 percent have been reported as administered.
To date, more than 698,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Missourians across the state. More than 531,000, or 8.7 percent, of Missourians have received an initial dose vaccination. On Thursday, Missouri hit its highest daily record for doses administered with 47,761 doses given in a single day.
Missourians are encouraged to visit MOStopsCOVID.com to view the latest vaccine updates, find out when they are eligible for the vaccine, and locate available vaccinators in their area.
State Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator
Missourians now have access to a secure registry tool that will help them to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. The newly-created Missouri Vaccine Navigator can be reached online at MOStopsCovid.com/navigator.
Gov. Parson said, “Although vaccine supply nationwide is still quite limited, this registration process will help connect Missourians with more avenues to receive a vaccine. This will not only provide support for Missouri citizens but also help our team determine where the greatest demands for vaccines exist throughout the state.”
The new navigator site allows residents to indicate their desire to be vaccinated. They will then need to answer questions to determine their eligibility based on the state’s priority phases.
Registrants will be notified upon activation of each phase and alerted when they become eligible. Individuals will then be able to seek vaccination from their health care provider if they have vaccines available or view mass vaccination events and other providers in their area.
In addition to helping individuals register for a vaccine, the Missouri Vaccine Navigator will remind registrants when it is time to schedule their second dose. Both vaccines currently authorized for use require two doses, and the second dose is critical to ensure individual and community protection.
Those with online accessibility issues are encouraged to call the COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 for registration assistance. Language translation and other services are available to callers.
House Bill 16 Signed Into Law
Governor Mike Parson has signed HB 16 into law, which provides more than $324 million in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
“HB 16 will provide much needed assistance to tenants and landlords across the state. COVID-19’s economic impacts have created hard times for many Missourians, and we are happy to provide this immediate relief,” Governor Parson said. “I applaud the work of the General Assembly, House Budget Chair Cody Smith, and Senate Appropriations Chair Dan Hegeman for their work in getting this legislation across the finish line for the people of Missouri.”
The ERAP was passed by Congress in December 2020. The program’s passage made funding available to state and local governments to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program includes up to 12 months of assistance for rental arrears, forward rental assistance, utility arrears, and utility forward assistance. Utility assistance includes electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal, and certain energy costs.
Both landlords and tenants are eligible to apply for assistance through the program. More information regarding the Emergency Rental Assistance Program can be found on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission will administer the ERAP in Missouri. Additional information and the application portal can be found at www.mohousingresources.com.
Missouri House Approves Kratom Consumer Protection Act (HB 350)
Members of the Missouri House gave strong bipartisan support this week to legislation that will ensure the substance known as kratom can be safely purchased and used by adults in Missouri. Known as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, the bill would create a regulatory framework to protect Missourians from kratom products that have been adulterated or contaminated with dangerous substances. The bill also would prevent the substance from being sold to those under the age of 18.
An herbal extract that comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree in Southeast Asia, kratom is often marketed as an energy booster, pain reliever, and even as an antidote for opioid withdrawal. Kratom is legal in Missouri and currently is not addressed in Missouri law.
“Unfortunately there are no rules and regulations to the safe consumption of kratom in the state of Missouri, and that means as the law stands now, it could be sold to children and, more dangerously, it could be adulterated with problematic substances,” said the bill’s sponsor.
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act would ensure kratom products are labeled accurately, and would prohibit dealers from selling kratom products that are contaminated with a dangerous non-kratom substance. The bill also states that dealers will not sell kratom products to anyone under the age of 18.
The bill’s sponsor added, “The goal is to ensure that what is being sold in the marketplaces across Missouri is what it purports to be.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Moves to Streamline Vehicle Licensing Process for Farmers (HB 153)
Members of the Missouri House have approved legislation to cut bureaucratic red tape for farmers so they will have an easier time licensing their vehicles. The bill would allow the many farmers who own multiple vehicles to avoid numerous trips to the license bureau to license each vehicle.
The bill would create a system for Missourians who own multiple farm vehicles to have the vehicles placed on the same registration renewal schedule. All farm vehicles included in the fleet of a registered farm vehicle fleet owner would be registered during April or on a prorated basis. Farm vehicles registered under the bill would be issued a special license plate with the phrase “Farm Fleet Vehicle” and be issued multiyear license plates that do not require a renewal tab.
The sponsor said the bill will help farmers who own multiple vehicles to have a simplified process for vehicle licensing. He said, “It has been a real pain going to the license bureau every time one of those vehicles came up for licensing.” He added that the bill gives farmers the option to “go to the license bureau one time a year in April, license all your vehicles at that one time, and you will be able to get a fleet plate that will be put on your vehicle for multiple years.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Legislation Approved to Protect Missouri Farms from Unauthorized Inspections (HB 574)
Legislation is now on its way to the Senate that would protect Missouri agricultural facilities from other states and outside organizations that want to gain access to the facilities without legal authority. The bill is meant to protect producers from animal rights activists who may seek access under false pretenses, and is also designed to limit the spread of disease by ensuring only qualified inspectors are allowed into the facilities.
The sponsor said, “The reason this bill is needed is that oftentimes many of our agriculture producers do not know who has the right to come into their facility.” The sponsor noted that several states have passed animal welfare or animal rights bills and that organizations from those states sometimes want to inspect the facilities of Missouri producers without the authority to do so.
The bill specifies the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, the county sheriff and any other federal or Missouri state agency with statutory or regulatory authority have exclusive authority to inspect the grounds or facilities in Missouri. Facilities include those used for the production of eggs, milk or other dairy products, raising of livestock, or the production or raising of dogs or other animals not used to produce any food product. The bill also allows a facility owner to request and allow groups outside those listed to inspect.