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St. Louis-area counties, vaccine now in hand, aim to launch their own mass COVID-19 vaccinations

St. Louis-area counties, vaccine now in hand, aim to launch their own mass COVID-19 vaccinations

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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-area counties, some freshly in possession of COVID-19 vaccine, on Friday announced several large-scale vaccination clinics over the coming weeks, adding to urgent efforts in Missouri and Illinois to boost inoculation numbers.

Health officials stressed that residents must have appointments to receive a vaccination, and that vaccine supply still is very limited.

“It all relies on the product, on the supply,” said Herb Simmons, director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, which on Friday announced the county’s first large-scale clinic, set for Monday. “We’ve got the demand, we just need the vaccine.”

The counties’ announcements come as the two states work to secure vaccine from the federal government and ramp up vaccinations. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, heavily criticized this week for failing to inoculate residents quickly enough, on Friday mobilized the Missouri National Guard and set up nine mass vaccination sites across the state, targeting at least 18,000 residents in total.

At the same time, some counties finally have received vaccine doses and worked this week to quickly get them into residents’ arms.

The Franklin County health department will have its first large-scale vaccination event Saturday. About 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered at the Union City auditorium.

St. Clair County aims to administer 600 to 800 vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville, but will continue vaccinating there throughout the week, if supplies last. Those who live or work in the county are eligible. Online pre-registration and appointments are required. Those who do not have internet access can call 618-825-4447. Free transportation is available for residents 75 and older.

The St. Francois County Health Center announced on Friday it is holding a clinic Thursday with the Missouri National Guard at the Farmington Civic Center. Appointments are required. Second doses will be administered on Feb. 25.

The Jefferson County Health Department is slated to receive its first batch of doses next week. The 250 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be redistributed to the health department by COMTREA, a local federally qualified health center. The department has scheduled clinics for Wednesday and Thursday.

Health department Director Kelley Vollmar said in a news release that thousands of county residents want to receive the vaccine, and the department will continue each week to request direct shipments from the state.

Missouri reported on Friday that nearly 351,000 people have received a first dose of vaccine, or 5.7% of the population, up from 326,000 the day before. And of those, nearly 107,000 have received a second dose.

In St. Louis, 5.1% of the population have received a first dose, and in St. Louis County, 5.5%, according to state data.

Dr. Alex Garza, who leads the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said during a briefing Friday that local health systems have administered upwards of 159,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We will do everything we can to get as much vaccine out as quickly as we can, and our goal is to vaccinate everybody as fast as we can,” he said. “But until then we all still need to be doing our part.”

Starting Monday, nursing students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis who completed a training course will help vaccinate people at hospital sites in the St. Louis area.

Garza said that within the next couple of weeks hospitals will likely finish vaccinating most of the individuals who fall under “Phase 1A,” a group that includes patient-facing health care workers.

Annika Merrilees • 314-340-8528 @annie3mer on Twitter amerrilees@post-dispatch.com

Photos: Lincoln County holds mass vaccination clinic

2,000 people descended on the Lincoln County Fair Grounds in Troy, Mo., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, for a mass vaccination event held in partnership between the Lincoln County Health Department and the Missouri National Guard.

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