COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that Phase 1B Tier 3 will begin March 15. The tier includes teachers, childcare employees and grocery store employees.
“Missouri has had a vaccine plan since October, and this has not changed. We have been very disciplined in following our plan,” Governor Parson said. “With vaccine supply steadily increasing, we believe we are in a good position to activate Phase 1B - Tier 3, which will make approximately 550,000 more Missourians eligible to receive a vaccine.”
Tier 3 includes 550,000 residents in the following jobs to get the coronavirus vaccine including teachers, childcare facilities, government and grocery store employees to name a few.
With Tier 3 open, 3.5 million Missourians will be eligible to get vaccinated.
Watch the briefing replay in the player below.
State officials estimate that there are approximately 800,000 Missourians who are eligible and interested in getting vaccinated. By March 15, the state expects this number to decrease by half.
Parsons said although the vaccine supply is limited, they are expecting a slow and steady increase.
When asked by ABC 17 how soon the Johnson and Johnson vaccine shipment would be pending FDA approval. Parsons said if approved this weekend, Missouri will put in an order and could get 50,000 doses next week.
Columbia Public Schools, where a teachers' union has been pushing for teacher vaccinations as schools reopen, said in a statement the district is "grateful" for the announcement.
"As soon as doses are available, we’re prepared to work to facilitate the vaccination of our school employees," CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said in the statement.
About 700 of CPS's 3,000 employees have been vaccinated under current and previous phases of the state's vaccination plan.
The Columbia Board of Education will consider a return to five-day school weeks when it meets March 8. Elementary students are now in classrooms four days a week, with middle and high school students in buildings two days each week.
The Missouri National Education Association said in a statement that Parson's announcement was "good news" but pointed out that teachers' groups have been pushing for vaccinations for weeks.
As of Wednesday, 12% of Missouri’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and over 350,000 Missourians have been fully vaccinated with both doses.
A recent survey showed that 40% of Missourians will not seek a vaccine.
According to CDC data, Missouri now ranks second lowest in the nation for average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days.
Parson said that Phase 2 may be activated 45 days after March 15 as long as data is favorable to the activation.
Parson said last Thursday that about 3 million Missourians are eligible for vaccination in the current phase of the state's vaccination plan. According the state's coronavirus dashboard, 756,334 Missourians have received their first dose of vaccine.
"The quicker we can vaccinate those in our activated phases, the sooner we can activate the next tier," Parson said last week. "It will take time, so we ask that everyone remain patient throughout this process. I assure you that we will give every Missourian who wants a vaccine the opportunity to get one."
Last week, Parson addressed the canceled vaccination events across the state due to recent winter storms.
Health care providers have since received those doses and clinics have been rescheduled for this week. Events that are happening throughout the state can be found through the the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Parson encouraged Missourians to get registered to receive the vaccine, on the state's new Missouri Vaccine Navigator site.