During the first 32 days of Missouri’s mass inoculation campaign, 202,533 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered throughout the state for an average of 6,329 shots per day. While the coverage rate needed to induce herd immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is unknown, the scale of logistical challenges in inoculating a population of 6.1 million Missourians is certain. Assuming the virulence of COVID-19 is somewhere between the measles and chickenpox — where 75% coverage would induce herd immunity — implies that 4.6 million Missourians need to become inoculated against the virus to restore normalcy. That’s 9.2 million doses that need to find a path into the arms of Missourians, considering each of the currently approved vaccines require an initial dose followed by a booster three to four weeks later, depending on the manufacturer. So far, 40,648, or 25%, of vaccine recipients in Missouri have received both doses.
The bad news is that at the current pace of 6,329 doses administered per day, Missouri would meet 75% coverage by February 2025 (1,455 days). On Monday, though, Gov. Parson opened eligibility for an additional 2 million Missourians who are 65 years and older, or 18 years and older with selected preexisting conditions that place them at elevated risk for adverse COVID-19-related outcomes. This will increase the current pace of vaccination in Missouri as soon as a stable vaccine supply is in place. In addition to adequate vaccine supply, several other key challenges remain, which include inducing demand among vaccine-hesitant populations, reliability from federal partners, building mass-vaccination venues, ensuring second doses for full protection and identifying a large geographically dispersed population with targeted underlying conditions that can be difficult to verify.