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COVID-19 booster shots outpace first and second doses in St. Louis County

Coronavirus vaccines will soon be available in the St. Louis area. The vaccine can prevent people from developing the COVID-19 illness.
David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are outpacing first and second doses in St. Louis County. Doctors say that booster shot numbers are encouraging but that more people need to get their first two doses to help end the coronavirus pandemic.

More people in St. Louis County are getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot than are getting their first or second shots.

Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that since Sept. 25, 59,620 people in St. Louis County have received a COVID-19 booster. That compares to 30,934 people in the county who got their first or second doses.

Demand for booster shots in St. Louis County started outpacing requests for first and second doses in late September. The numbers aren’t surprising given how many people are now eligible for a third shot, county Deputy Health Director Spring Schmidt said.

“People who received the dose, whether it was six or eight months ago, depending on what type of dose it was they received in their initial vaccination, those folks really did look to this opportunity to affect their health,” Schmidt said. “So given the number of people that we saw in April, I'm not particularly surprised by the booster doses.”

Over the same period, 11,090 people received a booster shot in St. Louis, while 11,651 people got their first or second shots.

The federal Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots for immunocompromised people in mid-August. Booster shot availability has since been extended to others, including people 65 and older, people between 50 and 64 with underlying medical conditions and people 18 and older who live in long-term care facilities.

Federal health officials say those seeking booster shots can get one that is different from their initial doses.

Booster shot availability likely will grow in the near future, said Dr. Clay Dunagan, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

“We've got large swaths of the population that are eligible for boosters,” Dunagan said. “I think before long we'll get to a point where boosters are freely available, and I think we'll continue to see people using boosters until we get through a large proportion of people who've already been vaccinated.”

Dunagan said that though booster doses are important, the coronavirus won't be stopped until enough people get their first and second doses.

“I don't think any shot, whether it's a primary immunization or booster is a negative, I think they're both positives in terms of the population,” Dunagan said. “But the difference between an unvaccinated person and one who's already had a vaccination series is pretty substantial. We would forgo boosters if we could if we could get the rest of the population to take the primary vaccine seriously. We just haven't been able to do that.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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

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