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MU Health Care Expects Thousands Of COVID-19 Vaccine In First Shipment

MU Health Care's main campus, near Stadium Blvd. in downtown Columbia.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

MU Health Care has a tiered system for distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to its staff as soon as it gets its first shipment. The vaccine is still awaiting emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

Staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients and carrying out other high-risk procedures will be the highest priority for vaccination. After that high-priority group, support staff including custodians would be the next target for vaccination. 

MU Health Care does not yet know exactly how many doses the system will receive, but there are several contingency plans for different amounts. Dr. Laura Morris, co-chair of the MU Health’s COVID-19 vaccine committee, said the system expects to receive a few thousand doses in the first shipment.

“Beyond that, we are moving in a week to week basis," Morris said. "We have lots of communication with the state and so we do not know yet when the next shipment will be and how many vaccine doses we’ll have within that."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services expects to begin receiving its first 51-thousand doses early next week and will vaccinate health care employees by Thursday. 

State Health Director Dr. Randall Williams says Missouri has received a commitment to get 350-thousand doses in the month of December. He says as soon as the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency approval, they’ll be shipped within 24 hours.

While MU Health Caredoesn't know how many more doses it will receive in future shipments, Morris says there it will be at least an equivalent amount to administer the required second dose to everyone who received the first. The Pfizer vaccine requires patients to take two doses, 21 days apart, to be fully effective. 

Morris says staff are strongly recommended to get the vaccine, but not required to do so.