COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Health care providers in Mid-Missouri are struggling to fill coronavirus vaccine appointments as supply starts to outpace demand.
Nearly 39% of Boone County's population has gotten at least one vaccine dose and 25% are fully vaccinated. As those numbers grow, groups that administer the vaccine are seeing appointment slots go unfilled, even after the state deemed anyone old enough to get the shot eligible last week.
Hundreds of vaccine appointments are still available at MU Health Care for a clinic Thursday through Saturday. First-dose appointments are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Second doses will be scheduled 21 days later.
Those who need help scheduling an appointment can call the COVID-19 vaccine call center at 573-771-CARE (2273) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Map of Missouri vaccine providers
Boone Health has appointments available for vaccinations at Columbia Mall. "We have been able to fill the vast majority of our appointment slots to this point, but we have felt a shift," spokesman Ben Cornelius said.
The Cole County Health Department planned to give out 4,000 total doses this week at the Capital Mall and has only filled 1,600 appointments.
Chezney Schulte with the Cole County Health Department said the clinic is accepting walk-ins. If the health department consistently can't fill 4,000 spots in weeks to come, it will request fewer doses from the state.
Schulte said she is not sure how much the number of people initiating vaccination will go up, because some many people have been eligible for weeks or months. She is also aware that some people may never change their minds about getting the vaccine.
Schulte said she expected the allocation across the state to change to make sure areas where people are still searching for doses are getting more.
Missouri opened vaccine eligibility to all adults and those 16 and older last Friday. Patients younger than 18 will need signed parental consent. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in people 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 and older.
Vaccine hunters have formed Facebook pages to find appointments for people in the past, but now the pages post about the widespread availability of appointments.
Jill Anderson has helped fill appointments through the "Missouri Covid 19 Vaccine Information" Facebook page. Anderson said getting a vaccine can now be described as "easy." That wasn't the case weeks ago.
Anderson said most people on social media have found a dose and the focus now needs to be reaching other groups of people such as the homebound and people with language barriers to educate them on the vaccine if they remain hesitant.
"When you talk about hesitant people, a lot of times they're not saying, 'No, I never want the vaccine.' They're saying I need a little bit more information," said Anderson.
Appointments are available through many different providers for either Pfizer or Moderna doses.