BELLEVILLE, Ill. — In February, lines to get into the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds went on for miles. In the first days of May, cars of people seeking a COVID-19 vaccine just trickle in. The demand drop is prompting officials to end operations on May 30.
"At our peak we were doing just under 3,000 doses a day," St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons told 5 On Your Side. "Demand has slowed down, we're doing less than a thousand a day."
The Belle-Clair Fairgrounds is actually set up to do 5,000 doses per day if the need arose, but it never did.
On May 30, the gates will close on one of the largest mass vaccination sites in the greater St. Louis area. After extending their lease twice, Simmons' department will hand the keys back over to the fairgrounds.
"Summer months are coming up and it could be a busy time for them, so we want to get them back in operation," he said.
Even after the fairgrounds drive-thru lanes close, people can still get a free shot by driving through the line at 330 West Main Street in Belleville. Simmons said that location will stay open until the county no longer needs to operate a vaccination site.
The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency is shifting gears from working on vaccine operations to encouraging residents to line up for one.