ST. LOUIS — When the doors open at the Forest Park Community College "mega clinic" Thursday, there will be Tier 3 patients in line for their vaccine, ten days after the state opened that tier.
"It's becoming very, very open so everybody can start getting vaccines if they want them really really soon," Robert Norris said.
Norris has helped more than 60 people sign up for vaccine appointments many of them strangers he met on Facebook vaccine pages, a position sometimes called a "vaccine hunter."
Until now, St. Louis area leaders said they were not ready to move to Tier 3 — which includes teachers and childcare employees, government workers, and food processing employees, amongst other categories — because the region's vaccination rates lagged behind the rest of the state. Many Region C municipalities — including St. Louis City and County — said they had too many people in previous tiers still waiting for a vaccine.
Local leaders hope increased access closer to home will cut down on the number of people crossing the state for a shot, but the next hurdle is staffing, especially a need for vaccinators.
"As more vaccine becomes available, we will need more sites, more vaccinators, and more infrastructure to get shot safely and effectively in arms," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a Wednesday morning briefing.
Wednesday, BJC and St. Luke's sent out appointment invitations to Tier 3 patients, a welcome sign to those still on the waitlist.
"People are relieved that it's becoming way easier, and people are happier that the rollout is actually happening and the shots are becoming more and more accessible," Norris said.