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Vaccine Distribution In St. Louis Raises Many Questions, Challenges

St. Louis area health officials worry that if African Americans do not take the coronavirus vaccine, then the Black community will continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus.
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On Dec. 11, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. By Monday, the very first St. Louisans got their first shot of the vaccine.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. By Monday, the very first St. Louisans got their first shot of the vaccine — kicking off a series of complicated questions about access, public health priorities and strategic messaging.

Those subjects were the focus of a special edition of St. Louis on the Air, with guests and listeners digging into the life-changing decisions now being made. They include questions about who gets vaccinated first and who has to wait, and well as the challenges in getting enough people to take the vaccine.

According to Pew Research Center, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Washington University public health professor Matthew Kreuter discussed the public health messaging necessary to get everyone on board.

St. Louis Public Radio health reporter Sarah Fentem and Dr. Mimi Vo, an internal medicine physician, also joined the show to discuss the ins and outs of local distribution.

Fentem was present at Mercy Hospital South when the first people in St. Louis received their shots.

“It was the first time I had felt joy from health professionals in a really long time,” she said. “It sort of had the feel of an office Christmas party. You could tell this was something that people had been waiting for for a long time.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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