After receiving 975 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Wednesday the St. Louis County Health Department will start vaccinating its clinical employees on Friday, and other patient-facing health care workers in St. Louis county, not connected to a hospital provider, on Monday, Jan. 11.
He said patient-facing health care workers are in the first group of vaccine recipients — category 1a — as defined by the state, which is overseeing the distribution of the vaccine.
“The health department will be providing vaccinations to 1a workers across the county until notified by the state to proceed to the next category,” Page said at his morning news briefing on Jan. 6. Examples of health care workers not connected to a hospital provider includes dentists, school nurses, behavioral health workers, substance abuse providers, optometrists and physical therapists.
“We believe there are potentially several thousand 1a health care workers still to be vaccinated, and we have begun reaching out to those with whom we are not currently connected,” Page said.
At this time, no vaccines are available to the general public. Page said the St. Louis County Health Department will continue to follow state and federal guidelines to determine who qualifies for vaccination moving forward.
Although vaccinations are underway, Page said it is important to not let expectations cloud the reality that COVID-19 is still spreading.
“We must continue to follow our public health protocols and protect the health and safety of everyone,” Page said. “We’re hopeful about vaccines, but health care is a large industry with a large number of workers in the 1a category. And we’ll be working to vaccinate our health care workers for the next several weeks.”
Page said St. Louis County has asked for more vaccines and its health department stands ready to ramp up the staffing and administer as many vaccines as the state will allow them to have.
“We are hopeful for a steady supply, but we have already seen in our hospital partners that there can be issues with the supply chain. We don’t want to create a false expectation. As we get the vaccine in hand, we will quickly let those who are eligible,” Page said.
“Across the county, the vaccine supply has not been as robust as we had hoped. We are moving as fast as we can, based on the vaccine we have available. So, thanks to all of you for staying safe, for being patient. This pandemic will continue to negatively impact our community for months, until the vaccine is widely available.”
New restaurant dining protocol
Also this week in St. Louis County, new restaurant dining protocols began Jan. 4 with limited indoor dining at 25% of fire code capacity and tables spaced six feet apart. Banquet facilities are being allowed to operate at 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever number is lower.
Restaurants and bars are required to close by 10 p.m. Restaurants and bars are also to record the names and contact information for its patrons in case COVID-19 contact tracing and case investigation are necessary.
For more information, visit stlcorona.com.