Senator Roy Blunt concerned about vaccine hesitancy, vaccine passports

COLUMBIA, MO. — The University of Missouri has the capacity to give 4,000 shots a day at Faurot Field, but the problem is they don’t have enough vaccine to give. 

Sen. Roy Blunt, R- Missouri, toured the vaccination site Wednesday and spoke with university administrators and MU Health Care physicians. So far, MU Health Care has administered 56,000 vaccines, most of them Pfizer, others Moderna. 

During his stop, Blunt mentioned what the state and country should have done differently if we could go back a year ago when the pandemic started. He said he would not stop elective surgeries, but he also thinks the country has come a long way in trusting vaccines. 

“If we face this situation again, we would probably do differently like eliminating elective surgeries, I think turned out to be almost across-the-board loser,” Blunt said. “A loser for the medical facilities that depend on that income and in many cases, a bad thing for people who led to believe that going to the doctor or going to the hospital was more dangerous than not going.”

As the pandemic moves into the rearview mirror, Blunt said the ability to talk to doctors on the phone or on the computer should have been thought of beforehand. “Telehealth, generally, we probably should have done five years ago what we did last year,” Blunt said. 

“Go back nine months ago when we turned off elective procedures, 35 percent of our revenue evaporated overnight,” CEO of MU Health Care Jonathan Curtright said. “We didn’t stop having strokes, or heart attacks or traumas just because this pandemic was going on.”

Blunt told members of Mizzou and MU Health Care his concern now is vaccine hesitancy. 
“People will understand that part of the job of the Food and Drug Administration is not to approve vaccines, emergency or otherwise, unless they are clearly understood and proved to be safe as these vaccines are,” Blunt said. 

Gov. Mike Parson has previously stated he does not support a vaccine passport, which would require Missourians to show their vaccination. Blunt agrees with Parson. “The White House press person this week said that we would not require vaccines in the United States of American and the governor has the same view and I agree with both of them,” Blunt said. 

Blunt said people should take it upon themself to get vaccinated. 

“As you see your friends at work, your friends at church or friends at wherever have a vaccine and reconnect with their families and not have negative health consequences, I think people are going to be reminded again of the social responsibility of not the requirement of stepping up and doing your part,” Blunt said. 

He believes because of the pandemic, hesitancy for other vaccines has lessened. 

“We’re going to see a re-thinking maybe of how important vaccines can be to a society as we prepared in advance for things that don’t have to happen,” Blunt said. “A year and a half ago, if you would have asked Americans about a vaccine, about one in five or one in four would say we really don’t think vaccines are a very good idea, we would rather people in our family didn’t get them, I don’t think that number is going to be the same number when we get through this process.”
Blunt also told the roundtable his other focus right now is mental health because of the stress isolation and separation has caused. 

MU Health Care is the one of the four high throughput facilities in the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F and is believed to be one of the largest vaccination sites in the state according to MU. 
Starting Friday, all Missouri adults become eligible for the vaccine. 

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