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story.lead_photo.caption Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stands against a backdrop that the chamber has used for virtual meetings during the coronavirus pandemic at its office in Jefferson City, Missouri, on May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

Missouri businesses can now earn a designation based on the percentage of their staff that is fully vaccinated.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry's campaign, "COVID Stops Here," recognizes organizations that have at least a 70 percent vaccination rate.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is Missouri's pathway to recovery, and employers are truly on the front lines of the push to vaccinate our state," Missouri Chamber President and CEO Daniel Mehan said in a statement. "We are excited to recognize workplaces across Missouri that are leading on vaccination. Any workplace that has achieved widespread vaccination should be recognized, and that's our goal with the COVID Stops Here campaign. In order to finally put this virus behind us, we need Missourians to get vaccinated as soon as possible."

Businesses can apply for a designation online at mochamber.com/CovidStopsHere.

The three tiers are Gold Level with 90 percent vaccinated, Silver Level with 80 percent vaccinated and Bronze Level with 70 percent vaccinated. Once approved, employers will receive materials to showcase their distinction and vaccination status.

The website also has resources for businesses striving to achieve widespread vaccination among their staff, including a guide on how to encourage employees to get vaccinated.

The effort comes as COVID-19 cases are rising in Missouri. The delta variant is surging in southwest Missouri, and the state's vaccination rate is lagging behind the national average. With hospitals filling with COVID-19 patients, statewide officials are encouraging Missourians to get vaccinated.

"Vaccination continues to be the best method of COVID-19 prevention, and we encourage anyone age 12 and up to be vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them," said Gov. Mike Parson, who recovered from COVID-19 last year.

Sen. Roy Blunt has been outspoken while encouraging Missourians to get vaccinated. He has traveled around the state and urged residents to get vaccinated, calling it a "social responsibility."

In June, Blunt introduced a bill that would award a Congressional Gold Medal to the scientific community that developed the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Our nation is incredibly grateful for all of the scientists, researchers and medical professionals who worked around the clock and under incredible pressure to develop life-saving vaccines," Blunt said in a statement. "Facing significant challenges, they defied all odds and developed vaccines faster than ever before in history."

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