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There is a lag between the number of doses of COVID-19 vaccines Missouri has received so far and how many have made it into people's arms, but Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday he and his administration are pleased with progress and noted the reason for the lag is in how vaccines have been allocated.

There have been 314,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines shipped to Missouri in December, state health Director Dr. Randall Williams said.

As of Tuesday, 66,000 front-line health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff in the state have received their initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Parson said.

The administration is prioritizing people in those groups to receive vaccines first. Both of the currently available vaccines — the first from a partnership between Pfizer Inc. and German-based BioNTech, and the second from Moderna Inc. — require people to receive two doses spaced several weeks apart in order to gain the full level of protection offered against the coronavirus.

Parson said vaccinating facilities in the state will have received a further 84,000 first doses by the end of this week, with another 73,000 doses coming next week.

Shipments of second doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected next week.

Second doses are accounted for separately when first dose shipments are allotted, according to a news release from Parson's office.

Missouri began receiving doses of Pfizer's vaccine Dec. 14. Two days later, Parson's office reported all the initial vaccination sites had received almost all 51,675 of those doses — in which time, nearly 1,000 health care workers had been vaccinated.

On Dec. 22, Parson's office said more than 23,000 vaccinations had been administered.

The lag between receipt of doses and people being vaccinated has been due to half of the 314,000 doses shipped being allocated for long-term care facilities' residents and staff, Williams said Wednesday.

Vaccination of long-term care residents and workers did not start until this Monday, through a partnership with the CVS and Walgreens retail pharmacy chains, he said.

Those vaccines are part of the state's allotment of Moderna vaccine but are shipped directly from the federal government to the pharmacies, according to Parson's office.

More information on the vaccines and the state's plan for distributing them is available at MOStopsCOVID.com.

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Based on available evidence, Williams said, the current vaccines should protect people from a more contagious variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in the United Kingdom and is present in the United States — found in Colorado.

Missouri's health laboratory has the capacity to detect the new variant, Williams added.

Williams and Parson continued to urge people to take precautions and not let their guards down against COVID-19.

Missouri has contracted 196 staff through the agreement with Vizient Inc. — a Texas-based company — to help staffing at several hospitals. Twenty-four of those staff had started work Monday, and the rest will start in the coming days and into the new year, Parson said.

The total includes 33 respiratory therapists, 75 certified nursing aides and 88 other nurses with various specialties.

The help is coming to six hospitals or hospital systems Parson has previously named: SSM Health in St. Louis and Jefferson City; St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield; MOSAIC Life Center (St. Joseph), Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, BJC HealthCare (St. Louis) and Cox Health (Springfield).

Child care funding

Parson also announced Wednesday the availability of tens of millions of dollars in funding for child providers, especially intended to help low-income families.

The more than $46 million includes $2.5 million for child care providers to apply for a grant of up to $25,000 to support the needs of school-age children who are learning virtually while in their care. The grant is funded by federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds, according to Rebecca Woelfel, spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services.

Another $12 million is being provided to cover lost income from low attendance during the pandemic, by funding 20 percent rate differential payments January through May 2021 for Child Care Subsidy Program providers that are not currently receiving disproportionate share rate differential payments. This is paid for with the Child Care Development Fund.

There's also $10.9 million to fund a temporary, one-time Child Care Subsidy benefit of up to 60 days in January through May 2021 for low-income families who are looking for work and are unemployed because of the pandemic. This is paid for with CARES Act funds.

Another $12.8 million will fund Transitional Child Care Subsidy benefits through December 2021 for parents at work, in school or training for work and who have an income between 138-215 percent of the federal poverty level, even if they have not previously qualified for the Child Care Subsidy program.

Missouri families qualifying for the transitional benefit will receive an 80 percent subsidy benefit if their income is between 138-176 percent of the federal poverty level or a 60 percent benefit if their income is between 177-215 percent of the poverty level.

The $12.8 million is paid for with the Child Care Development Fund.

Another $8.5 million will fund full-time child care subsidy benefits through May for working parents with eligible school-age students who are not in school in-person. This is paid for with CARES Act funds.

More information on available resources for Missourians in need is available at dss.mo.gov.

Services can be applied for at MyDSS.mo.gov or by sending completed applications and verification documents by email to [email protected] or by fax to 573-526-9400. The Missouri Services Navigator has information on more than 2,800 programs and services at mo.servicesnavigator.org/s4s/WhereILive/Council?pageId=1&lockla=true.

This article was updated at 4:45 p.m. Dec. 30, 2020, with additional information.

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