JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, on a day when his state set new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations, outlined a new plan for distributing vaccines that don’t exist yet.
And, in keeping with his opposition to state-enforced mandates, the governor insisted he will not require Missourians to get vaccinated against the highly contagious, potentially deadly coronavirus.
“I won’t do that as governor,” Parson, who also opposes a statewide mask mandate, told reporters during a briefing at the Capitol.
His comment came as state officials submitted a vaccine distribution plan to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts health care workers at the top of the list for who will get the vaccine first.
With multiple COVID-19 vaccines under development, but none yet authorized or approved, the administration created a 111-page outline of how a future vaccine will be handed out.
The plans calls for doctors, nurses and other health care workers to receive the vaccine first, then workers in critical jobs. Others high on the list include workers in food manufacturing facilities, teachers, first responders, people in high-risk populations and people over the age of 65.
The first round would take about 90 days to complete once a delivery of the vaccine is made, the report notes.
Of the three tiers, the final one is mass vaccination of everyone else.
“I want to assure you Missouri is fully prepared for when this comes,” Parson said.
Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said he believes a vaccine could be ready by November or December, which is a more ambitious timeline than other experts are predicting.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News a vaccine might be widely available by April.
Fauci said researchers should know by “November or December” whether some vaccine trials have a safe candidate and that even if and when a safe candidate is determined, initial quantities will likely only be a few million doses.
Although Parson says he won’t order people to get vaccines, they may be required to get them by employers if they are in certain jobs.
Another record dayTalk of a vaccine came as DHSS reported the number of people hospitalized for the virus had reached another record in Missouri.
More than 1,440 people are currently hospitalized, setting a record for the third straight day. The seven-day average number of hospitalizations stands at 1,371.
The health department also reported 1,875 new cases Thursday and 22 additional deaths.
In all, 150,554 have tested positive and 2,442 have died.
Illinois reported 53 additional deaths Thursday, the highest single-day death toll since 63 were reported on June 24.
The 4,015 new cases of COVID-19 is the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 331,620 with 9,127 deaths, the IDPH reported.
As of Wednesday night, 1,932 people are hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19.
Missouri’s COVID-19 dashboard had been offline for four days because of data problems.
The department said a malfunction occurred in the system, resulting in an incorrect inflation of the number of reported cases going back over several days, suggesting on Saturday that more than 5,000 cases had been added in 24 hours. This number actually reflected an increase in cases over multiple days leading up to Oct. 10, not a one-day increase.
Parson blamed the problems on the fact that the department is dealing with over 2 million pieces of data.
“We are in an unprecedented situation,” the governor said. “We are working through these challenges.”
“We were getting duplicate data,” Williams, the DHSS director, said.
As for a vaccine, the CDC said Tuesday it may ask some groups of people to not get the vaccine at first because of limited supplies.
The CDC also said a vaccine may not be recommended for children when it becomes available in the U.S. because the vaccine has not been tested on them.
“Only non-pregnant adults” have participated in early trials so far, the CDC said on its website. “However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine earlier said only 10 million to 15 million doses of a vaccine may be initially available, an amount that will cover just 3% to 5% of the nation’s population.