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St. Louis crosses key hospitalization level as vaccine push continues

Health department data showed more than 40 people per day were being hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the 7-day rolling average

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — When the doors opened Sunday night at Concord Trinity United Methodist Church in south St. Louis County, organizers said dozens of vaccine recipients were waiting to sign up.

"That rush is so awesome," said Joel Stassel, the church's property manager. He added that the numbers were "a little overwhelming at first."

Sunday marked the church's second time hosting a vaccination clinic, opening their doors, Stassel said, because it's "the right thing to do."

"As long as there is that enthusiasm in the community and that desire, we are more than happy to open our doors for that," he said.

The clinic comes the same weekend the St. Louis County Department of Public Health data showed more than 40 people per day were being hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the seven-day rolling average. Area health leaders previously set that threshold as a warning level.

One of the recipients getting the shot is Kayden Hardesty, 14, whose vaccine allows him to head back to school with confidence after a year of uncertainty from switching between virtual and in-person learning.

"I can go see my friends, feel relaxed, do stuff and feel more confident that everything is going to be fine," he said after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

St. Louis County on Monday will launch a daily effort to get kids 12 and older protected against COVID-19, along with other necessary back-to-school immunizations, at the county's three permanent clinics:

  • John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley;
  • North Central Community Health Center in Pine Lawn;
  • South County Health Center in Sunset Hills.

Students who go to the clinics to get their vaccinations also can receive physical exams and dental services at those locations.

The clinics operate daily from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. from now until Sept. 17. The south county location is also open from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesdays. The county also plans to have a program to get vaccines to families that can't make it to one of the clinics.

RELATED: Free gas and groceries: St. Louis County OKs vaccine incentive program

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page has said it's critical for young people to get the vaccine before the start of the school year. 

“Now is the time to get a shot; consider it part of your back-to-school list,” Page said on June 30. “This is arguably the most important tool your students need for the new school year.”

If you want your child to be fully vaccinated before the start of the school year, you'll likely need to start the process this week. According to medical officials, it's a five-week process to be considered fully vaccinated using the Pfizer vaccine: three weeks between doses and two weeks after the second dose. Many St. Louis area schools return to the classroom the week of Aug. 23.  

As the county clinics open Monday, the church will switch to cater to a different crowd: a summer camp with children between the ages of 6-13, most of them too young still for a vaccine. For that reason, Stassel said they'll use another way to stop the spread of COVID-19: masks.

We're trying to make it to camp enjoyable but with the variance running around, you have to protect everybody," he said.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.