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St. Louis County not ready to roll out vaccine to next tier

"If you're in Tier 3, you have the right to get the vaccine, but there are a lot of people ahead in line,” explained the St. Louis County Department of Public Health

ST. LOUIS — On a Friday afternoon at any given high school, students usually have their eyes on the clock. At Parkway South High School, art teacher Stacey Larson is the one with the big countdown.

“We’re all acting like kids around here, just waiting," she said. "Just waiting and crossing our fingers.” 

Larson becomes eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Missouri on March 15, along with other critical infrastructure personnel in Phase 1B Tier 3.

“I want to get my vaccine," Larson said. "I’ve got my calendar printed out; I've been looking forward to the 15th for so long. I'm very happy to be back with my students getting to do what I love easier, making connections and all that good stuff, but it'll be nice to know I won't be risking my health."

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health said it's been working for weeks with leaders at schools like Parkway South to get teachers and staff their shots.

But most newly qualified individuals in the county will struggle to get an appointment right away.

RELATED: Why Jefferson County says it is not ready to vaccinate next tier

“If you're in Tier 3, you have the right to get the vaccine but there are a lot of people ahead in line of you,” said Christopher Ave, with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

St. Louis County will continue to focus on people in Phase 1A and Phase 1B Tier 1 and 2. Some St. Louis hospital systems said they will do the same.

“Our experts are going through the list and the information, and trying to reach the people with multiple issues that would lead them to be vulnerable,” said Ave. “It's not just age, as you know. It’s underlying health conditions, occupation, that kind of stuff.”

Meantime, Larson said she and her colleagues are prepared to make an hours-long road trip if that's what it takes to snag a shot – and the relief that comes with it. 

RELATED: St. Louis area vaccinators not moving to next phase of rollout despite state's March 15 announcement