ST. LOUIS ( -- Missouri and Illinois are at the bottom of the list in their COVID-19 vaccine rollout compared to the rest of the nation. Missouri is last on the list with only 4% of the population vaccinated so far. Illinois is 45th on the list, as 4.4% of residents received their first dose.

For many, this means it may be months before that first shot.

"Unfortunately, the governments of Missouri and Illinois have failed their citizens," Peter Pitts said. He's a former associate FDA commissioner and professor. 

[READ: Missouri last in US for COVID-19 vaccine rollout]

The CDC has a report card for vaccine rollout and shows numbers of vaccines distributed to states and vaccine actually given to people. In Missouri, CDC numbers show the state administered 45% of its vaccine and Illinois administered 51% of the vaccine it received. These numbers are lower than some other states. West Virginia, for example, has distributed 75% of its vaccine doses; Oregon, 64% and Michigan 62%.

"I think any number short of 90%, they should be losing sleep over. If 60% or more of vaccines are sitting on the shelf, you have to ask, what is going on?" Pitts said.

[COVID-19 vaccine: Here's where to find it in the St. Louis area and how to sign up]

But Pitts points out Missouri and Illinois' current numbers actually mirror the current national average.

"It is 100% unacceptable," Pitts said. "Delay is deadly."

Pam Walker - a former head of public health and emergency management in the City of St. Louis and the state - cautions against using those numbers as a measure of success. She says there is always a lag between doses distributed and shots getting into arms. She says while rollout has been slow to start, she doesn't blame states.

"I think it's slower than it could have been because the federal government waited too long to ask local public health agencies to help," Walker said. 

[READ: How people aged 65 and older can register for virus vaccine without the internet]

Governors in Illinois and Missouri have also defended their rollouts. A spokesperson for Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement "the federal government has provided little guidance and the vaccine doses are still scarce."

Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri's health director, also pointed to a lag in reporting after shots are administered, and says more than 100,000 vaccine doses in the state are still at long-term care facilities waiting to be administered.

"We are convinced that in Missouri there is no hoarding or stockpiling or inefficiency of getting the vaccines in, to the best of our knowledge," Williams said.

Walker said speed of vaccination will start to take off in the next weeks.

"Its easy to criticize the system, but I am hopeful we are focused on fixing it," Walker said. "You need to get the vaccine. It will save your life."

Peter Pitts argues that states should be managing one centralized location for appointments for shots but as we know, counties and health care providers are now offering their own registration sites.

Walker said people can register with more than one place but make sure you only book one appointment once the time comes.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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