Unloading Vaccines

Public health centers in the St. Louis area are finally getting word that their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines are on their way for health care workers, while hospitals are already giving their second doses of vaccine. Health care facilities in Missouri wanting to become a COVID vaccinator had to complete an application through the state’s Show-Me-Vax program. 

Two of the health centers said their vaccines would come from the City of St. Louis. However, we have no word from the City of St. Louis or the Department of Health and Senior Services on any progress in that matter. Late last week, CareSTL Health and Affinia Healthcare received notice that COVID vaccines are heading their way.

Affinia Healthcare received their notice on Jan 8. 

“As soon as the COVID-19 vaccine is received, Affinia Healthcare will begin vaccination of our front-line staff, followed by vaccination of other health care workers, patients and the community at large, according to federal and state distribution guidelines” said Dr. Melissa Tepe, vice president and chief medical officer  at Affinia Healthcare and a member of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. 

“Our capacity to vaccinate people will largely depend on the amount of vaccine received.” 

At CareSTL Health, Chief Executive Officer Angela Clabon said, “We expect to receive 975 vaccines and will distribute them at our admin location, 5471 Dr.  Martin Luther King Drive. 

Dr. Hari Nallapaneni, the chief medical officer, will be present for the administration of the vaccines to essential workers beginning Monday, Jan. 18. 

“We are receiving Pfizer vaccines,” Nallapaneni said. 

Dwayne Butler, president and CEO of Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers said, “Currently, none of our PHC front line heroes have received the COVID-19 vaccine. And, while we await our opportunity to receive the desperately needed protection the vaccine promises, we will continue to serve our community's health without pause or hesitation.  We are hopeful that the vaccine will be available to our heroes within the next week or so, but we have received no promises. We continue to urgently request the vaccine and anxiously await our turn.”

St. Louis County Department of Public Health began vaccinating for its workers this week after receiving 975 doses last week. The first group, 180 county health care employees who met the state’s definition of Tier 1A were the first to be vaccinated.

“Those 180 public health workers represent 65% of the 275 Health Department employees who are eligible based on the state’s 1a tier of health care workers,” County Executive Dr. Sam Page said in his Monday morning news briefing.

In addition to County Health Department employee vaccinations, St. Louis County vaccinated the first of non-DPH employees who qualify as health care workers in the 1A tier as defined by the state. These are health care workers not affiliated with one of our hospital systems, which are taking the lead in vaccinating those who have a hospital affiliation.

After vaccinating 100 people a day, by Friday, Page said he anticipates them scheduling 320 1A individuals.

“In addition to nurses, doctors not connected to health care providers, other examples of providers that would be eligible to sign up for the vaccine include school nurses, dentists, behavioral health and substance abuse providers, optometrists and physical therapists,” Page said.

People in those categories may request information on getting on the county’s list may email dphcovidvaccine@stlouisco.com.

There is no word yet on when vaccines will be available for the general public.

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