Coronavirus vaccination data shows discrepancies caused by reporting delays

Newton County Health Department receives first vaccine shipment.
Newton County Health Department Receives First Shipments

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Coronavirus vaccines have officially arrived at the Newton County Health Department.

“We’re excited that we have the vaccine and now we can start to help vaccinate our public,” says Newton County Health Department Director Larry Bergner.

The department received 200 doses of vaccine in their first shipment on January 27th, which will be used for people in Phase 1A, people in nursing and group homes, and first responders. Once the health department receives more vaccines, they plan to start drive thru vaccine clinics for residents who are 65 and older, and those of any age with comorbidities.

Those drive through clinics will be by appointment. The department is currently creating a waiting list — you can get on it by calling (417) 451-3743, or by emailing administration@newtoncountyhealth.org. More information on that can be found in a January 20th Facebook post made by the health department below.

Update: Edited to add more contact info listed below upon reaching out to us.

***PLEASE READ CAREFULLY***

COVID-19…

Posted by Newton County Health Department on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

 

The department had originally requested 400 doses from the state, but only received 200. And that was after a decent time delay from when they originally expected them.

“We heard early on that we would have vaccine by middle to late December. And then we heard by mid January. So, we’re thankful that we finally.. we do have it,” says Bergner. “We haven’t heard anything from the state as to what the consistency will be. We assume that we’ll have some consistent numbers week by week. But since we’re just starting this process, we’re gonna wait and see how that unfolds.”

The shipment comes only a few days after the state as a whole was ranked last for percentage of residents who had received their first doses of coronavirus vaccine.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that, “Information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday showed that 242,937 Missourians have received the first shot, or 3,958 people per 100,000 residents. Idaho, Nevada and Alabama had the next worst per capita rates, followed by Missouri’s neighbors on both sides — Kansas with 4,374 vaccinations per 100,000 residents, and Illinois with 4,392 vaccinations per 100,000 residents.”

On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released a statement about the ranking, saying that a large number of vaccines allocated to CVS and Walgreens through the federal vaccination program for long-term care facilities have not been administered.

 

“As of today, a total of 661,400 vaccines have been shipped to Missouri and of those 304,434 (46%) have not been reported or administered. To date, over 351,000 doses have been administered, and 4.4% of the eligible population have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. State-enrolled vaccinators in Missouri have administered over 60% of the doses shipped into the state for their use. The limited allotments that our state receives continues to limit the rate at which people are vaccinated, but we have also become aware that some of Missouri’s vaccinators have not been administering vaccinations as efficiently as we have been asking, but we are working with these providers to increase the speed at which they get vaccines into arms. A large amount of the distributed amount sits with the federal pharmacy partnership which was activated to serve long-term care staff and residents. To date, unfortunately, the federal partnership has administered only 17% of those shots. 332,000 doses have been allocated to this program with CVS and Walgreens. Of those 211,400 doses have been ordered by the participating pharmacies, and 56,498 doses have been administered in 920 clinics throughout the state, based on their reporting.”
Governor Mike Parson also released a statement on Tuesday, saying the data from the CDC is being misrepresented, and doesn’t tell the whole story.
“After my call with other governors, I can tell you that Missouri is not alone in our frustration on how vaccination data is being reported by the CDC. I and many other Governors expressed concern that vaccination data from the CDC is being misrepresented and does not fully reflect the situations we are seeing at the state level.
National rankings on the CDC’s dashboard are marginal and are being used to misinform Missourians that the state is falling short in vaccine administration, or worse, that the state itself is stockpiling vaccines. The fact is that vaccines ship directly to local providers, and our data shows vaccine distribution and administration rates in Missouri are similar to other states. With CDC data being used to fit certain narratives that fail to fully inform Missourians of the reality of the situation, we encourage the use of the NEW Missouri COVID-19 vaccine dashboard as one of the best resources to get the latest vaccine numbers without the political rhetoric others may include in their reporting.”
The Governor also says he plans to divert doses away from the two companies to boost the vaccination rate in the state.
There are also some discrepancies between the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker, which also shows how many vaccines have been administered in each state, and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ new COVID-19 dashboard.
For example, the CDC data shows that there’s been a little more than 340 thousand doses given in the state in total. But the state is reporting that there’s been more than 374 thousand doses administered.
But, there’s also discrepancies between the state and local levels. For example, the state dashboard shows that there’s been only 737 doses of vaccine administered in McDonald County. But the McDonald County Health Department is reporting that there’s been more than a thousand.
Bergner says that the discrepancies could come down to a time delay in reporting.
“My best guess would be that at the local level, we enter data right here right now. And then that data has to be relayed back to the state. And then the state relays that back to the federal,” explains Bergner. “Some of that data may be delayed.”
There are disclaimers on both the Missouri dashboard and the CDC dashboard about reporting differences, but it’s at the bottom of the page and in small print on the CDC dashboard — where a reader would have to know to look for it to see it.
So at least for now, Bergner recommends that residents pay the most attention to data coming from local health departments because it will be the most accurate and up to date.
“As a resident, there might be some anxiety because of lack of communication,” says Bergner. “Transparency would be nice so that all residents will know why there’s a lag, and why we might be behind and why some of the vaccine orders are not getting filled.”
Now that the health department has vaccines, Bergner wants residents to know they plan to get them into arms as quickly as possible.
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