Missouri, like other states, is overcoming challenges brought about by a series of winter storms over the past week.
And with those storms came cancellations of several mass-vaccination events.
But the state (including the Missouri National Guard) had planned on that eventuality, Gov. Mike Parson said during his weekly COVID-19 media briefing. And Missouri had built in time to reschedule those events within its strategic plans.
Health officials shifted vaccines that had been intended for the canceled mass-vaccination clinics to hospitals and other vaccinators in corresponding areas.
"We had contingencies put in there because we were in the middle of winter," Parson said. "If we had to cancel, we had some makeup time in there on different days."
He added that although shipments may have been a little late, the demand for vaccinations remains high.
"As long as we can keep getting that out, we can spread the vaccine out to more distribution centers if we need to," Parson said. "We're not going to miss very much, at all, as far as timing goes."
He added the state would work seven days a week, if it had to, to make up time lost.
"I really want to hit these numbers because I think, in the next couple of weeks, we would be able to have a plan in place when we could announce the next phase of — what date and what time that would happen," he said.
Currently, about 3 million Missourians qualify to receive the free vaccinations.
The state has opened the vaccinations for health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and staff, anyone 65 or older and anyone who has an underlying health condition that cause them to have greater risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
The only two vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States so far are manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. Each requires a second dose (Pfizer's in 21 days and Moderna's in 28).
It is recommended, should someone miss their second dose, they receive it in six weeks, said Randall Williams, director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
"They extended that window to six weeks based on what they were seeing," he continued.
The state is also trying to get federal guidance on how long vaccinators should hold second doses before using them as first doses for other patients should patients miss them for some reason, like a mass vaccination cancellation, Williams said.
Parson and Williams pointed out Missouri has continued to show improvement over other states in the pandemic response.
On Thursday morning, the state had dropped from fifth to fourth in the country for the fewest cases per 100,000 over the past seven days.
"As the governor said, it is a trend that has been going on now for several months," Williams said.
Parson began the briefing with a look at the effects of winter storms on the state over the past week.
"Earlier this week, we announced an improvement to the Energy Crisis Intervention Program for low-income Missourians," Parson said. "When a household's energy source has been shut off, or is at-risk of disconnection, this program pays the minimum amount needed on the fuel bill to get the household out of a crisis."
Starting this winter, the program will pay up to $800 toward the owed balance, making it faster and easier to resolve the households' crises.
Price-gouging for natural gas will not be tolerated, Parson said.
His administration has reached out to the Missouri Attorney General's Office and pledged to use all resources available to prevent price-gouging.
"We ask any Missourian who believes they have been subject to price gouging," Parson said, "to contact the Attorney General's consumer protection hotline at 1-800-392-8222."