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Vaccine and COVID disparities: How rates compare between age groups and ZIP codes in St. Louis County

“The disease is different, more transmissible and more likely to affect children,” the health department said

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A concerning combination of low vaccination rates and high community transmission is making breakthrough cases “an increasing reality," the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) said in an update Wednesday morning.

“The disease is different, more transmissible and more likely to affect children,” the health department said.

The county health department gave an update on the surge of COVID-19 cases in the county and more detailed insight on vaccination rates.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 3, St. Louis County has a cumulative weekly rate of 170 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Each day, the county is seeing an average of 274 new cases. The department said the “vast majority” of these cases are unvaccinated people.

The county’s positivity rate is currently 11.8%, which means not enough people are getting tested for COVID-19 so there are probably more than 274 new cases each day.

Credit: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health
Rate of new COVID-19 infections by vaccination status in St. Louis County

The department said the virus is “fundamentally different” than it was last year, particularly in children. Throughout the summer, there has been an increase in outbreaks at camps and daycares, which the department said shows transmission in schools will be likely.

“While most cases only have mild symptoms or no symptoms, and children seldom end up in the hospital, we do not yet know what the long-term effects of children contracting COVID-19 are. As such, DPH has recommended universal masking in all schools,” the health department said.

What does this mean for your family? The department said it's not enough to just get vaccinated. Residents are encouraged to also make sure loved ones are wearing masks and spending limited time with people whose vaccination status isn't known.

"Given the increasing cases in children, well-intentioned, vaccinated but unmasked people can and will infect children, if they do not take precautions, such as masking," the health department said.

Another concerning trend is the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated people. Last week, about one in five reported cases were in people who have been fully vaccinated. The department said it is often seeing these cases are from sustained exposure to an infection in an unvaccinated person, usually in the same household.

“In the upcoming weeks, it’s very likely that you will know someone that is vaccinated and tests positive for COVID-19,” the health department said.

About 45% of St. Louis County residents are fully vaccinated. Vaccinations are higher in older people with 78.5% of people 65 and older being vaccinated. Fewer than 50% of those 50 years old or younger have been vaccinated.

Credit: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health
Total COVID-19 vaccination rates by age group in St. Louis County

The department said there are significant disparities in vaccination rates by ZIP code. Rates in north county are lagging those in other parts of the county. Many ZIP codes in west county have about a rate of 70% vaccinated while 35% are vaccinated in north county.

The ZIP codes with the lowest vaccination rates include:

  • 63133
  • 63134
  • 63135
  • 63136
  • 63137
  • 63138

Vaccination rates among Black residents are 13% lower than those for white residents for both genders, according to the department.

Credit: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health
First dose vaccination rate by zip code in St. Louis County

Health officials said they are committed to increasing vaccination rates, especially in those ZIP codes with the lowest numbers. As of July 9, there was an average of 1,139 doses administered each day and as of July 27, that number increased to 1,767. 

The most significant jump has been in the 10-19 age group with 38.7% having received at least one dose of the vaccine as of July 29.

The department said COVID-19 cases among children are very high, particularly in communities where not as many people are getting vaccinated. As of July 26, the average rate of newly diagnosed infections among those 0-19 years old is 22.6 cases per 100,000 residents.

Rates of newly diagnosed youth cases in the “Outer North” and “Inner North” region are much higher than other parts of the county. The Outer North region is seeing 31.1 new cases per 100,000 people per day and the Inner North region is seeing 29.7.

View the full report from the health department below:

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