ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – More mass vaccination events are taking place today in the bi-state region. Congregation Shaare Emeth hosted a pop-up vaccination clinic Sunday in west St. Louis County.
“The county Department of Health seemed interested partly because of who we are and our reputation in the community,” says Rabbi James Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth Senior Rabbi. “But they also felt this is a different kind of venue than large hospitals or convention center or venues that are a little intimidating to people.”
While mass vaccinations continue for the next several weeks at the Dome at America’s Center in Downtown, Congregation Shaare Emeth in Creve Coeur hosted a clinic Sunday morning, allowing anyone 16 years of age and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
What first started as a conversation with congregation member Jill Schupp and Rabbi Bennett a few months ago became a reality as members of the Creve Coeur and Eureka Fire Protection Districts helped distribute the vaccine in conjunction with the St. Louis County Health Department.
“So there’s an increased availability of vaccine, which is really terrific,” says Dr. Vicky Fraser, chairman of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. “So now we’re able to vaccinate everybody that wants a vaccine and we want everyone to get the vaccine. The COVID vaccine is safe. This is what we need to do to make COVID go away and get everybody’s lives back to normal.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cases of the flu are nearly non-existent thanks to mask-wearing this past year.
“Very little respiratory viruses this winter,” says Dr. Fraser. “So very little influenza, very little RSV, and people are seeing a big difference in reduced hospitalizations and applications of those viral infections.”
“As someone who grew up in the Jewish community here in St. Louis, I guess I felt like if I was able to come and lend a hand then I knew that I would know people,” says Dr. Rachel Cohen, resident physician at Washington University School of Medicine. “It is my community so I felt it was important to come help out.”
“Jewish values are very clear,” says Rabbi Bennett. “We are obligated to do everything we can to preserve and save lives. So from the beginning of the pandemic, we felt that was our role to communicate that message clearly to people to do everything you can, stay safe and protect those you love but also to participate in public health and encourage others.”
Some 125 members of the congregation received their COVID-19 vaccine Sunday.