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Missouri mass vaccination events called off due to weather

JIM SALTER Associated Press
Associated Press

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The snow, ice and bitter cold gripping Missouri has delayed people from coronavirus vaccinations, including those who signed up for mass inoculation events that had been scheduled for this week. 

The governor's office said it was trying to reschedule the National Guard-run events, but that registrants should seek vaccinations elsewhere in the meantime.

The cancellations followed a storm that dumped several inches of snow in much of the state and sent temperatures plunging below zero, including in Kansas City, where it was 9 degrees below zero on Tuesday, a new record for the date.

"Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments," Parson said in the news release announcing the cancellations. "We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events."

Parson said the cancellations would not affect the weekly allocation of vaccines to each region.

Some of those scheduled for vaccinations at the National Guard clinics were due for their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Parson's office said plans were being made to administer those second doses as soon as possible.

The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine ideally comes four weeks after the first, but experts say it is important to get the second dose as a booster to the first, even if it is delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the second dose may be administered as late as six weeks after the first dose. 

The National Guard-operated sites weren't alone in calling off vaccinations. Several Missouri hospitals and clinics also had to postpone them because of the weather, including one operated by the Truman Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, which closed three hours early on Monday. The hospital said 200 doses had already been administered in Columbia.

The weather has also affected coronavirus testing. In Columbia, MU Health Care closed an on-campus drive-thru testing site until Wednesday.

The state launched a program Monday to help older Missourians get access to vaccinations. The partnership between the state health department and Missouri's Area Agencies on Aging will help people age 60 and older with online vaccination registration, coordinate transportation to vaccination events, and provide reminder calls for second doses.

Anyone interested can call their local Area Agency on Aging hotline.

The state on Tuesday reported 481 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths from the disease, pushing its pandemic totals to 472,143 cases and 7,458 deaths.