St. Louis County, fire districts will vaccinate homebound residents; program already underway in Mehlville

A+paramedic+from+the+Fenton+Fire+Protection+District%2C+above%2C+gives+a+COVID-19+vaccine+shot+to+a+woman+in+the+community+room+at+the+Affton+Fire+Protection+District+headquarters+on+Gravois+Road+while+St.+Louis+County+Executive+Sam+Page+visited+Friday%2C+Feb.+12%2C+2021.

Photo by Erin Achenbach

A paramedic from the Fenton Fire Protection District, above, gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to a woman in the community room at the Affton Fire Protection District headquarters on Gravois Road while St. Louis County Executive Sam Page visited Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

Wondering how to find a COVID-19 vaccine? Here’s what you need to know. 

St. Louis County is launching a pilot program to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are unable to leave their homes, County Executive Sam Page announced Wednesday morning.

The county hopes to make this service fully available through a formal launch by March 18, but the program kicked off last week with the county collaborating with the Mehlville Fire Protection District for visits to homebound South County residents. 

As county health providers work to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to the community, the Department of Public Health said in a press release that it remains aware of the barriers that make it more challenging for many residents to receive their vaccines, aside from availability concerns about the vaccine itself.

“The health department is there for everyone,” Page said Wednesday, adding, “We recognize that not everyone can get to one of our sites, so we are putting in place a homebound program to get vaccine to some of our most vulnerable residents.”

DPH estimates that there are thousands in the county who qualify as “homebound” under definitions provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People who can leave their homes with assistance do not count as homebound.

Working with the Mehlville Fire Protection District and the county Office of Emergency Management, DPH began delivering vaccine to what Page called a “handful” of homebound residents and a “handful” of their live-in caregivers last week. Fire districts throughout the county will be involved in the rollout. Mehlville and Affton are among the fire districts that are also serving as mass vaccination sites for people preregistered on the county’s list for vaccine

“This program is only available to those who are limited to their home and not those who can get out with assistance,” Page said, adding, “Remember that supply is much smaller than the demand, but things are improving. We are doing our best to reach our most vulnerable residents.

The county has been collecting referrals from partner agencies for participation in the homebound vaccine program. For more information or to see if you qualify, email dphcovidvaccine@stlouisco.com or call 314-615-2660.

The county has established a partnership with area universities to set up a screening and scheduling process for this program.

While county officials say they “are pursuing every possible avenue to speed up vaccine distribution,” the supply remains limited, Page cautioned in his press conference. Residents are urged to remain patient and register with multiple vaccine providers to increase their chances of securing an appointment.