Fire districts including Mehlville and Affton working with county to vaccinate group-home residents


Photo by Erin Achenbach

Members of the Visiting Nurses Association, National Guard, county employees and volunteers help administer COVID-19 vaccines at a 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.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is partnering with fire districts in South County and elsewhere in the county to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to about 1,000 residents and staff in group homes and other housing facilities who have not yet received vaccinations.

Fire district personnel will begin vaccinating the group-home residents this week. Fire districts participating in the program are Mehlville, Affton, Eureka, Pattonville and Richmond Heights. The county has halted vaccines for the public this week at the fire district sites due to lack of vaccines from the state.

Some residents and staff will be transported to a vaccination station at a firehouse like those the county opened last week in Mehlville, Affton and Eureka, while others will be vaccinated in their facilities by fire district staffers in mobile EMS units. DPH is supplying the vaccine and infrastructure support, and the fire districts are assessing needs in each group home and will administer the vaccine.

Most residents of long-term care facilities in St. Louis County already received vaccines from their pharmacy providers under a federal program. The facilities served in this new effort did not qualify for that assistance. Many of them house older residents with mobility challenges that might otherwise prevent them from getting vaccinated. Anyone in a congregant living situation is at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and most of these residents have underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to complications from the disease.

“We are focused on our mission of protecting our most vulnerable residents, and this partnership allows us to accomplish that mission,” Spring Schmidt, DPH acting co-director, said in a news release. “We are deeply grateful to our partners for their hard work in making this much-needed service a reality.”

After these facilities have been served, DPH intends to expand the partnership to administer vaccinations to homebound residents across St. Louis County. The program is also administered through a partnership with the St. Louis County Police Department Office of Emergency Management.