ST. LOUIS – The push to boost vaccination rates in the St. Louis area comes as the COVID-19 Delta variant creates more uncertainty.
The director of the St. Louis Department of Health warns hospitals could be overwhelmed again if vaccination rates fail to increase before this fall. Dr. Fred Echols cited St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force modeling.
“We could see over 3,500 hospitalizations, meaning that our hospital system would again be overwhelmed,” Echols said.
The city of St. Louis recently announced it has joined the national “Shots at the Shop” initiative to expand vaccine access in black-owned barbershops and beauty salons.
The St. Louis County Council gave final approval Tuesday to an incentive program to encourage vaccinations. Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday that the state continues to consider an incentive program.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, approximately 33.2 percent of the population in the city of St. Louis is fully vaccinated. The number for St. Louis County is 43.2 percent.
The pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church recently announced that COVID safety measures will remain in place. Three church members have suffered COVID-19 related deaths.
“People are listening to the disinformation they’re getting on Facebook,” Rev. Rodrick Burton said.
He is encouraging community members to turn to medical experts for information.
The city will continue to hold smaller community-based vaccination clinics to reach the city’s most vulnerable populations, according to Echols.
Area health officials continue to advise the public to use social distancing, handwashing and follow the CDC’s guidance on mask-wearing. They also remind the public to be tested if they are not feeling well.