St. Louis County could receive more vaccine doses today; opening vaccinations to those over age 65

A+nurse+at+Mercy+Hospital+South+prepares+the+first+dose+of+Pfizer%2FBioNTech%27s+COVID-19+vaccine+for+Mercy%27s+Chief+Medical+officer+Aamina+Akhtar+Monday%2C+Dec.+14.+Mercy+South+planned+to+vaccinate+20+workers+Dec.+14+and+another+20+staffers+Dec.+15.

Photo by Erin Achenbach

A nurse at Mercy Hospital South prepares the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for Mercy’s Chief Medical officer Aamina Akhtar Monday, Dec. 14. Mercy South planned to vaccinate 20 workers Dec. 14 and another 20 staffers Dec. 15.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

St. Louis County will open COVID-19 vaccinations to a broader audience, including those over 65, as soon as it gets enough doses of the vaccine to meet a large demand.

So far, the Department of Public Health has received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. But the county has ordered larger quantities that it hoped would be delivered today, although the county did not specify how many doses that would be.

So far, more than 116,000 members of the public in St. Louis County have applied to receive the vaccine when they are eligible, with just 7,000 of those in the 1A category of health-care workers.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson gave the go-ahead Jan. 14 to move to the 1B tier of vaccinations which includes first responders, teachers and people over 65 years of age. Those vaccinations could have started as soon as Monday in places where the vaccine is available.

St. Louis County said Jan. 14 that with the governor’s order, the county will notify people who have signed up as soon as they can make an appointment for a vaccine. County officials are encouraging all members of the public to apply at http://ow.ly/zJGN50D1yu7 or by emailing the county at dphcovidvaccine@stlouisco.com.

The health department has looked into larger vaccination sites, but that depends on vaccine availability as well as any federal funding attached to delivering the vaccine.

The 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine delivered to St. Louis County in 195 vials Jan. 5 have either been given out or placed in cold storage at a secure DPH facility.

The county said it is not sure when it will receive more vaccines and asked for patience because the “process of mass vaccinations is new. … Patience is essential. This process is dependent on the supply chain, which is managed by the state.”

Health-care workers are prioritized

The county has roughly 275 clinical workers who are county employees and are eligible to be vaccinated. Of those, 180 county workers, or 65 percent, had been vaccinated as of Jan. 12, after vaccinations started Jan. 8 in North County. Vaccinations continued last week and this week to inoculate county health-care staff. The county scheduled 100 vaccinations a day Jan. 11 through Jan. 14. On Jan. 15, the county ramped that up to 320 1A health-care workers.

Any health-care workers that fit into what is being called the “1A” tier and are not part of one of the region’s major healthcare systems can sign up to get the vaccine through the county. Workers for the major health systems, however, will be vaccinated through their hospitals.

General public can sign up

Those who sign up who aren’t in the 1A tier will be notified when the county reaches the category they are in and when the county has vaccines for that category. The vaccine is free to all.

Until the two-dose vaccines are given, the county is urging everyone to abide by the current stay-at-home advisory that extends indefinitely, wash your hands, socially distance and, in a new recommendation, “push back against misinformation.”

It might be awhile to wait. Missouri has received far fewer doses than expected.