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As COVID-19 vaccine in Kansas City remains scarce, Missouri town of 69 gets 2,000 doses

Steve Vockrodt and Jeanne Kuang, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

A mass vaccination event on Wednesday in Leopold — population 69 — had 2,000 doses available, enough for anyone who showed up at the Knights of Columbus facility in the small southeast Missouri town.

"ANYONE can go get the COVID vaccine at the Knights of Columbus. The health department has opened it up to anyone to avoid wasting the vaccine," KFVS-TV reporter Alayna Chapie wrote on Facebook. "A mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic is happening right now in Bollinger County at the Knights of Columbus in Leopold. Officials say they still have over 1,000 doses to give out. No appointment is necessary."

According to the CBS affiliate, there were enough vaccines to be had that by 3 p.m. Wednesday, they were made available to anyone who wanted them.

Under Missouri's vaccine rollout plan, certain professions — law enforcement, health officials, corrections employees, among others — and those age 65 years or older or people with certain health conditions have priority for getting a shot.

About 13% of residents in Bollinger County have received at least their first dose of vaccine, according to state data. In neighboring Cape Girardeau County, nearly 18% of residents have gotten at least one dose.

Meanwhile, none of Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in the Kansas City area have gotten up to 10% of their residents vaccinated. Statewide, about 12% of the population has received a first dose.

 

A call to the Bollinger County Health Department was greeted with a recording informing callers that the mass vaccination event at the Knights of Columbus in Leopold was finished and there were no more shots available. An administrative assistant said that health department director Juanita Welker was not in on Thursday.

Gov. Mike Parson bristled at reports of what happened at Leopold.

"When you see a report like yesterday, when you picked Leopold, Missouri, a little town in rural Missouri in a county that doesn't have a Walgreens, doesn't have a CVS, doesn't have a Walmart, and when you look at that county, that little town, yes, doesn't have much of a population, the only reason it was picked was simply because it had the availability to do a mass vaccine because of space," Parson said at a Thursday afternoon press briefing. "Everyone from around that region could come in to be vaccinated there."

A reporter pressed Parson about Leopold getting more vaccine doses than people who showed up for the mass vaccination, resulting in a call for anyone to come get a vaccine.

"We try our best to make sure those things are not happening but unfortunately you're talking every little county, little town has a health department," Parson said. "Some are much better equipped to handle a situation like this, they probably shouldn't have put that out there the way they did."

(c)2021 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.