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Missouri To Vaccinate 14,000 People At Several St. Louis Events Next Week

St. Louis County workers are vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at the mass vaccination site located on the campus of St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley.
File photo / David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County workers got their shots at the mass vaccination event in February on the campus of St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. State officials have announced more mass vaccinations are coming to St. Louis and other urban areas later this month.

Updated at 6:38 p.m. with comments from state Rep. Sarah Unsicker

Missouri officials plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 14,000 people in the St. Louis region at several events next week.

The Missouri National Guard, local health workers and state emergency management personnel will staff sites in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.

Two large-scale events at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park will inoculate approximately 6,000 people next Thursday and Friday. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be used.

Other state-run vaccination events will take place Thursday through Saturday. Residents can sign up for the St. Louis-area mass vaccinations at MoStopsCOVID.com/events.

The events will “continue to alleviate some of the backlog that many local providers are currently facing due to the high demand for vaccines in the St. Louis area," Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said. "While supply does not currently allow a vaccine for everyone who wants one and waitlists will continue, this event puts us one step closer to our goal of providing every Missourian the opportunity for a vaccine."

Around 20% of Missouri residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to state data.

The state also is hosting mass vaccination events late next week at Queeny Park in west St. Louis County, St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley in north St. Louis County and Family Arena in St. Charles.

Parson’s office announced the events after residents and officials in the St. Louis region criticized the governor for scheduling many vaccination events in rural areas while neglecting urban centers in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Approximately 3.5 million people, half the state’s population, are eligible to receive the vaccine. Health care workers, patients with chronic illnesses and critical infrastructure workers including teachers and agricultural workers are now eligible to receive the shot. State officials expect to expand eligibility to more residents, including homeless people and higher education workers, within weeks.

The state announced last week officials are shifting how the vaccine is distributed to regions throughout the state. Until this month, state officials have divided federal dose allocations equally among nine regions based on population. Region C, which includes the St. Louis metropolitan area, has received approximately 37% of vaccine shipments, based on its share of the state's population.

Later this month, Missouri will begin distributing vaccine doses based on need and the number of people who are eligible.

Under the new plan, Region C will receive 42% of the state’s vaccine doses, an increase of 5 percentage points. Kansas City will receive 24% of the doses, an increase of 1 percentage point.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page called the state’s effort “fumbled” in a press conference earlier this week.

Area residents are driving hours to receive vaccines in other parts of the state or waiting at clinics in hopes of receiving leftover doses at the end of the day, he said.

“Conversations on vaccine equity should have happened before any distribution,” Page said. “It took a clarion call from urban areas like ours … get the shots to where the need is the greatest.”

State Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, also has been critical of the state’s vaccine rollout. She thinks it appears to have favored rural areas.

The retooled formula will “make a big difference” in getting doses to urban areas, she said.

Only 13 percent of St. Louis residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 20 percent of residents state-wide.

“It’s far short of what we need to bring us back to state averages but it will go a long way toward vaccinating more people,” she said.

Unsicker said residents want the vaccine to be available close to where they live and work.

“They don’t want to drive two or three hours to get a vaccine, because that’s a round trip of four to six hours, and they have to do it twice,” she said.

The state is planning to host more mass vaccination events in St. Louis and Kansas City in the future, Parson said.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge

Sarah is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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