Gov. Mike Parson celebrated the arrival of the first vaccine doses in Missouri, as well as employment and education, at a Wednesday news conference.
Parson thanked Missourians for their increased caution related to COVID-19 over Thanksgiving and urged continued care and personal responsibility to prevent a surge in cases. He added that as vaccines become available, the public should remember they are “safe and highly effective.” When asked about his own plans to get the vaccine, Parson noted he had already recovered from COVID-19 and said he would let others get the vaccine before him.
“Right now I feel pretty comfortable making sure all the frontline people that really need it get the vaccine ahead of me,” he said.
The governor celebrated the receipt of the first vaccine shipment of 51,000 Pfizer doses in Missouri, with more to come next week and with plans to receive 100,000 Moderna doses next week, pending Food and Drug Administration approval of the Moderna vaccine.
Parson also gave an update on the state’s efforts to support hospitals in need of extra staff. Six hospitals statewide had requested and received help through the program.
Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Randall Williams sought to put people’s minds at ease about the vaccine.
“We hope every Missourian will consider getting this vaccination,” he said.
Williams said the vaccine is safe because it’s been through many levels of scrutiny, including inspection and approval at Pfizer, the FDA and in Missouri. He also said the vast majority of people taking the vaccine would likely not experience side effects, with 10% or less experiencing only mild effects for a short period. He said that 4% could experience fatigue, 2% could experience headaches and 1% could experience muscle pain or chills.
He said some other health officials have suggested that if people take the vaccine as expected, herd immunity could be achievable by June, and he projected the general public can expect to receive the vaccine anywhere from mid-April to June.
However, that timeline could be altered as more vaccines are approved or become available.
Parson also touted an added $10.1 million in funding for the A+ college scholarship program, which has grown in popularity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Parson said the money comes partially from the CARES Act. He added that unemployment has also dropped to 4.4% in November, a recovery of two-thirds of the jobs lost in the spring.