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St. Charles County Begins Distributing Coronavirus Vaccine At Family Arena

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Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Rick Simms (right), Veda Lewis-Simmons (middle) and Charity Huff (left) were some of the first people vaccinated for the coronavirus at the Family Arena on Tuesday. St. Charles County is utilizing the arena to vaccinate large groups of people.

When Veda Lewis-Simmons learned that St. Charles County would give health care workers the coronavirus vaccine, she made sure to register for a shot at the Family Arena.

Although she knows some people aren't sure if they should get the vaccine, Lewis-Simmons knew she had to protect herself and her patients.

“I’ve had several family members who have contracted but have successfully not had a lot of symptoms, and I also have patients that I see on a daily basis that have contracted [the coronavirus],” Lewis-Simmons said. “I think it’s necessary. We have scientists who have done a lot of research, and I just have faith in believing that the benefits will outweigh the risks.”

Lewis-Simmons was one of dozens who waited in line Tuesday as the St. Charles County Department of Public Health kicked off a vaccination effort by giving doses to health care workers and emergency personnel Tuesday.

County health officials expect to distribute 1,500 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine through Wednesday at the Family Arena. Officials will use the arena over the next seven weeks for vaccinations.

“This is a momentous occasion for a lot of people who are working on the frontlines,” St. Charles County Department of Public Health Director Demetri Cianci-Chapman said. “Preventing disease is always the principal function of public health, and this is what prevents disease.”

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Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Health care workers and volunteers wait for people to arrive at the Family Arena in St. Charles County to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

People interested in receiving a vaccine can register to receive a vaccine on the county's website. The reservation system will notify them when a dose of vaccine is available. The health department is starting with health care workers and emergency personnel, but officials will then make county residents and workers a priority, following state guidelines.

“I want to be able to get everyone in the population who wants the vaccine vaccinated,” Cianci-Chapman said. “For St. Charles County that’s over 400,000 people. It will take more than just my health department to get to all those folks, but we have a lot of community partners that are really stepping up.”

Others in line for the vaccine also said they had loved ones in mind when deciding to take the vaccine. St. Charles County resident Rick Simms, who works for a medical device company, said he needs to be vaccinated, as he often is in hospitals.

“I think it’s the beginning of a light at the end of the tunnel," Simms said. “Not just for my family but for the world for that matter, for the economy, for jobs, and I think that’s a great first step.”

Cianci-Chapman said that even though people are starting to receive the vaccine, it's important that everyone follow public health guidelines and keep away from others to stay safe

The health department also is giving people the Moderna vaccine at its offices. Cianci-Chapman said the department will continue to order vaccines and monitor the number of doses on hand.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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