County pushes vaccinations for students before return to school

Members+of+the+Visiting+Nurses+Association%2C+National+Guard%2C+county+employees+and+volunteers+help+administer+the+vaccine+at+the+mass+vaccination+site+in+Ferguson+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+2%2C+2021.+The+county+announced+Tuesday+that+in+addition+to+the+mass+vaccination+site+at+the+Florissant+Valley+campus+of+St.+Louis+Community+College%2C+additional+vaccination+sites+would+open+in+the+Mehlville%2C+Affton+and+Eureka+fire+protection+districts%2C+which+will+begin+administering+vaccines+to+eligible+members+of+the+public+who+have+appointments+Thursday.+

Photo by Erin Achenbach

Members of the Visiting Nurses Association, National Guard, county employees and volunteers help administer the vaccine at the mass vaccination site in Ferguson Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. The county announced Tuesday that in addition to the mass vaccination site at the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College, additional vaccination sites would open in the Mehlville, Affton and Eureka fire protection districts, which will begin administering vaccines to eligible members of the public who have appointments Thursday.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is launching a back-to-school vaccination program to get students vaccinated against COVID-19 before school starts in August. 

Beginning in mid-July, the health department will launch a daily effort to get eligible students ages 12 and up vaccinated before returning to the classroom this fall. 

In St. Louis County, about half of those eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose, however, “teenagers are way behind that pace.” 

“Only about one-third of those ages 12 to 19 in St. Louis County have begun the vaccination process,” said Page at a media brief last week. “That’s the lowest vaccination rate of all our age groups. With our overall case numbers going up and the Delta variant threatening our county, it’s critical that we get young people vaccinated before school returns in August.” 

COVID vaccines, along with other school immunizations, physicals and dental care will be offered at three permanent clinics from mid-July through September.

The permanent clinics are: 

  • The John C. Murphy Health Center, 6121 N Hanley Rd #2003
  • The Central Community Health Center, 4000 Jennings Station Road
  • The South County Health Center, 4580 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

Extended hours and weekend hours will be offered at all locations to make it easier for students and their families. 

Currently, only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people between the ages of 12 and 18. 

An individual is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

“For now, remember COVID vaccines are free, safe and very effective, even against the Delta variant. … So if you have children at home ages 12 and above, please make sure they get fully vaccinated so they can return to class safely,” said Page. “This is arguably the most important tool your students need for the new school year.” 

COVID cases in the County have increased 25-percent, largely among those who are not vaccinated. 

Last week in an effort to encourage more vaccinations, the St. Louis County Council approved spending up to $875,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide gift cards for things like groceries and gas as an incentive to get vaccinated. 

“Equity continues to be our priority in our response and we’ll continue our efforts to make the vaccine accessible to everyone,” Page said. “The County and its partners have done a great job in a few short months to get … residents vaccinated. But our work is far from over.”