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Coronavirus

Mass Vaccination Site In Ferguson Opens To Public On Wednesday

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.
David Kovaluk
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A nurse gives a shot of the Pfizer vaccine to a St. Louis County employee at the mass vaccination site located on the campus of St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.

The St. Louis County Health Department on Wednesday will open its first mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Ferguson.

The site, located on the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College, will provide vaccinations to eligible residents by appointment only. Around 450,000 county residents qualify for a dose, including medical workers, first responders, people 65 and older and people with health conditions that put them at high risk for COVID-19. Because of its low vaccine supply, the county is only scheduling 100 appointments a day for now.

National Guard members, local paramedics and employees with the Visiting Nurse Association will administer vaccinations at the site. The facility has the capacity to eventually administer 500 to 1,000 doses a day, a county spokesperson said.

Residents can pre-register to receive the vaccine on St. Louis County’s online form. People without internet access can call the county’s hotline: 314-615-2660.

The north county vaccination site will be located on the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College in Ferguson.
Shahla Farzan
The north county vaccination site is located on the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College in Ferguson.

Officials said they chose to open the county’s first mass vaccination site in north St. Louis County to reach residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods.

COVID-19 has been killing African Americans at disproportionately high rates throughout the U.S., in part because of pre-existing inequities in health outcomes. In St. Louis County, Black residents die at higher rates of COVID-19 than white residents, despite making up only 24% of the population, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

North county ZIP codes have the lowest response rates in the county for people pre-registering to receive the vaccine.

County Executive Sam Page said the county has partnered with local clergy and the St. Louis NAACP, among other organizations, to get the word out.

“[We] try to view this pandemic through a lens of equity,” Page said. “And we know that the African American community has been hit the hardest in St. Louis County.”

The St. Louis County Health Department will call and email eligible residents who pre-registered on its signup when an appointment is available, Page said.

Mass vaccination sites began operating last week in St. Clair County and St. Charles County. The St. Louis Health Department vaccinated more than 3,000 people at Union Station on Saturday. Local fire departments in Affton, Eureka and Mehlville will also administer appointment-only vaccinations starting Thursday.

Last week, Missouri ranked last in total vaccine doses administered. As of Tuesday, the state has shot up to 24th, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Unpredictable vaccine supply

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recently changed its COVID-19 vaccine distribution model to speed up the rollout. It’s now prioritizing giving doses to large providers, including hospital systems and National Guard vaccination sites. Local health departments and federally qualified health centers will each only receive 8% of the state’s vaccine allocation.

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.
David Kovaluk
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page answers question about the vaccine rollout at the mass vaccination site in St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley's campus on Feb. 2.

“The backbone of the state's plan will be to work through the hospital and health systems,” Page said. “And I think that's a good idea because the health systems can vaccinate a lot of people through their infrastructure.”

The St. Louis County Health Department will still try to secure as many vaccine doses as possible, Page said.

Missouri health officials estimate the state is receiving around 76,000 doses of the vaccine a week, but vaccine providers are requesting two to three times that amount.

The supply chain has been unpredictable, St. Louis County Health Department spokesperson Christopher Ave said.

The state has not sent a vaccine shipment to St. Louis County in two weeks, Ave said. The county is partnering with local hospitals to get the vaccines that will be administered at the Ferguson site. Page declined to say which hospital system is providing the doses.

So far, St. Louis County has administered more than 83,000 doses, according to state data. About 6.4% of the county’s population is vaccinated. Page estimated the county could have 30% of residents vaccinated within four months.

Around 5.6% of St. Louis residents, 5.4% of St. Charles County residents and 4.3% of Jefferson County residents have been vaccinated. St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties in the Metro East all report levels below 2%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Follow Kayla on Twitter: @_kayladrake

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