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Coronavirus

Health Officials Plan To Boost COVID-19 Vaccination Sign-Ups In North St. Louis County

Mike Shannon, the Lead Maintenance Driver for St. Louis County Transportation is 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
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St. Louis Public Radio
About 9% of north St. Louis county residents signed up for the coronavirus vaccine, the lowest registration rates in St. Louis County.

Residents of north St. Louis County are preregistering for the COVID-19 vaccine at lower rates than people in other parts of the county. To boost the vaccination rate in north St. Louis County, health officials plan to distribute information on the vaccine to residents through community organizations, churches and public service announcements.

Residents of north St. Louis County are pre-registering for the COVID-19 vaccine at lower rates than the rest of the county.

The St. Louis County Health Department found that for Jan. 7 through March 11, about 9% of people in north St. Louis County have pre-registered for the vaccine. But in most other parts of the county, about 20% have, according to data from 155,824 county residents who pre-registered through the health department’s portal.

The north St. Louis County areas with the lowest sign-up rates include ZIP codes 63133, 63140 and 63121.

To boost the vaccination rate in north St. Louis County, health officials plan to distribute information on the vaccine to residents through community organizations, churches and public service announcements. The county also plans to set up a mobile vaccine unit in north St. Louis county.

COVID_19_Percentage_Vaccine_Preregistration_031521 .jpg
St. Louis County Department of Public Health
In south St. Louis County, 20% of people are signed up for the COVID-19 vaccine, and in the central part of the county, 18.3% are. But in north St. Louis County, 8.8% of people have pre-registered for the vaccine.

“Our communities have been devastated by the virus, the economy and all these things,” said Nhial Tutlam, the department’s chronic disease epidemiology manager. “I think the best way for us to get out of this is through vaccination.”

Health officials say pre-registering for the vaccine is a challenge in areas where residents do not have access to the internet or lack transportation to vaccination sites. That could explain why only about 4% of people in the Pagedale area have signed up for the vaccine, said Damon Broadus, director of health promotion and public health research at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

If north St. Louis County continues to have lower vaccine sign-up rates, the county will have trouble vaccinating enough people to gain herd immunity, Broadus said.

“If we say we want our economy to recover and get back to full employment especially for the African American community, we need to get beyond that,” Broadus said, “beyond the fear and hesitancy based on history. It's been proven that this vaccine is safe and effective at protecting us.”

The most efficient way to sign up for the shot in a timely manner is through a high-speed internet connection or smartphone, which county officials say many residents in north county don’t have. People can also sign up through the county’s vaccine call center, but officials say some people have a hard time connecting with someone directly.

Broadus said some older residents attempted to sign up for the vaccine but did not follow through because they had trouble understanding the process.

Many of those seniors who live in predominantly Black neighborhoods are at a greater risk of dying of COVID-19 because they have underlying health conditions, he said.

“If we reach a critical mass of people who have been vaccinated, we will be able to get back to whatever normal looks like in the near future,” Tutlam said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

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