With the supply of coronavirus vaccines poised to accelerate in the coming weeks, area health departments are seeking more volunteers to help administer them.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Monday urged medical providers to become vaccinators.
“We expect to see our vaccine allotment increase substantially,” Page said at a morning briefing. “To prepare for the vaccine surge, we will need more volunteers to help us.”
To meet that need, he called on primary care physicians and other local medical providers to consider enrolling as vaccinators.
“It will take all of us — the Department of Health, hospitals, pharmacies and physicians — working together to meet the demand for the vaccines,” Page said. “Those relationships are already in place, we just need to build on them.”
Beyond enlisting the help of additional vaccinators, Page said the county is seeking volunteers, in general, to fill both clinical and nonclinical roles at vaccination sites. People without medical expertise are needed as line monitors and ushers, and for tasks such as data entry.
City spokesman Jacob Long echoed the need for more hands at vaccine events in St. Louis. “These are long days, and they’re almost every weekend now,” he said. “I think that’s going to be a standing invite.”
The city has announced a mass vaccination event to be held Thursday and Friday at Forest Park Community College. Residents registered with the city Health Department who qualify for a vaccine under Phases 1A and 1B (Tiers 1, 2 and 3) will be invited to attend.
Page said he eventually hopes to have “hundreds of vaccination sites vaccinating a few hundred people” each day, instead of relying heavily on mass vaccination sites to deliver a couple thousand shots on weekends. He added, though, that the St. Louis area would see more mass vaccination sites as vaccine availability rises.
On March 29, a new tier of individuals is set to become eligible for coronavirus vaccines in Missouri. On April 9, all state residents will be eligible.
The anticipated surge of vaccinations comes as known coronavirus cases have steadily diminished across the state and region.
Missouri officials announced 173 newly confirmed infections Monday, reducing the statewide average to 346 new cases per day, throughout the last week. That weekly rate of transmission is comparable to levels from late last June, before outbreaks soared to new heights.
The St. Louis region, meanwhile, has averaged 34 daily hospital admissions linked to the virus over the past week, according to numbers released Monday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
The state reported no new deaths from the disease Monday, although it has averaged nine additional fatalities per day in the last week. The pandemic has killed at least 8,374 Missourians, thus far.
An exception to the steady decrease of cases across the region has been Washington University’s campus.
“The situation we face now at the midpoint of the spring semester is dire,” wrote Rob Wild, the interim vice chancellor for student affairs, in a March 12 letter to students.
He said the school’s case numbers were up since January, and that a high number of students had tested positive for the virus or were quarantined. The letter blamed student conduct, saying there have been “too many students having parties or otherwise gathering, even in small groups, and not wearing masks.”
The school’s last major identified “cluster” of infections occurred during a week in the middle of February, when multiple gatherings of unmasked students caused 44 positive cases, according to the university. Since then, two smaller clusters were identified in early March, but were each linked to seven positive cases or fewer.
University officials did not respond to requests for comment.
In his recent letter, Wild stressed the importance of practicing behaviors such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and cooperating with contact tracing efforts as the school starts to reopen and even plans for in-person graduation ceremonies.
“Everything we have done and worked for is at risk if we can’t change our collective behaviors right now and turn the corner,” Wild said.
Photos: Vaccine clinic for adults with Down Syndrome held at Southside Hospital
Adults with Down Syndrome and their caregivers on on Friday, March 19, 2021, filled about 400 pre-scheduled appointments for immunization through a partnership with the hospital (formerly St. Alexius) and the Pujols Family Foundation who reached out to families to the families with outreach and aid.