ST. LOUIS ( -- This week Barry County in southwest Missouri will hold a two-day mass vaccination event but there are currently around 800 open appointments.

“Currently our Wednesday appointments are full but we have a lot of appointments available Tuesday,” David Compton said, the director for the Barry County Emergency Management Office. As of Monday, 800 appointments are available for Tuesday's event. Wednesday is booked.

This as St. Louis County has 224,000 eligible residents waiting to get their shots. 

The event is one of several state-run mass vaccination events with open appointments this week. A look at the Missouri State Vaccine Navigator website shows openings in Pettis County, Scotland County, Butler County and Holt County.

“Anyone who is in the eligible tiers is welcome, so if people from St. Louis can make the drive, please do,” Compton said.

Robbie Norris, a St. Louis County resident, is a vaccine hunter. He spends his days looking up open appointments to help people find the vaccine.

“The demand is so high in St. Louis County, in St. Charles County,” Norris said. “Each morning around 10 a.m. I check to see who’s offering mass vaccination clinics around the state.”

He hopes people who have the ability will take the drive when there are available openings. “It frees up space for somebody that can’t make it,” Norris said.

This comes after News 4 has spent weeks questioning Governor Mike Parson and the state's health department about unused vaccines in rural counties. On Thursday Parson said changes would be made.

“We will begin transitioning mass vaccine events to Region A which is Kansas City and Region C which is St. Louis region. We expect a full transition by April 1," Parson said.

The state added, “This timeline will allow vaccination teams to complete booster clinics for previous Moderna and Pfizer events and transition to the single dose Janssen vaccine. Both mass and targeted vaccination events hosted by the state will begin utilizing the Janssen vaccine as supply allows. This will help increase the scale and efficiency of state-sponsored clinics as vaccination teams will not need to return to locations for booster (second) dose vaccinations.”

In Barry County, the emergency management director says he feels they have vaccinated those in the area who are eligible and are interested. “There’s a long waiting list of people in the next tier, including teachers, but we aren’t there yet,” Compton said.

He’s hopeful those in surrounding counties will make the drive and fill the open appointments. In St. Louis, open appointments are not an issue. In fact it's the opposite. At St. Louis County’s state mass vaccination event on Saturday, around 60 people were turned away who did not have appointments and were hopeful for an extra dose. St. Louis City’s mass vaccination event on Saturday also used every single dose.

Compton says they will do everything they can to not waste any doses. If they don’t fill all the appointments, any vaccination that is not thawed will be sent to another county.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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