ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A new program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will bring more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to St. Louis.
The eight-week program launched Wednesday and will vaccinate 3,000 people, seven days a week, totaling 168,000 doses. The mass vaccination site will be held at the Dome at America's Center, which is available for St. Louis City and County residents.
On Monday, Governor Parson and Mayor Krewson joined FEMA officials on a tour of the vaccination site.
"This community vaccination clinic will go a long way toward protecting the most vulnerable and high risk populations from COVID," said Mayor Krewson.
The America’s Center site was selected by a joint team with representatives from the state of Missouri, City of St. Louis, and FEMA because of its proximity to a large number of Missourians at high-risk to the disease and limited access to health care.
"If you want a vaccine, I encourage you to get a vaccine, you need to come out and get it done because everyday that's being done were saving somebody's life," said Governor Parson.
Missourians have driven hours to find vaccines in rural counties — at least those with cars and the time. Tens of thousands of doses are waiting to be distributed, slowly being rolled out in a federal long-term care program. Waitlists are hundreds of thousands of people long. Black residents are getting left behind.
The doses administered at this site will be in addition to Missouri’s current statewide vaccine allotment of approximately 200,000 initial doses distributed weekly to nearly 1,050 state-approved vaccine providers. The type of vaccines administered may vary from week to week depending on vaccine availability.
“This special vaccination site enables us to help St. Louis be better protected from COVID-19 by increasing access to life-saving vaccines, particularly for those in the city who are medically at high risk or underserved because they don’t have ready access to health care,” said Kathy Fields, Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 7. “This effort will go a long way to ensure equitable access to vaccinations.”
The Biden administration announced the St. Louis event and an event in Gary, Indiana at the same time.
For several weeks, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has faced tough questions about reports of an imbalance between rural and urban areas when it comes to the vaccine distribution. While the St. Louis area prepares for a "mega vaccination" event next week, Parson maintains the state's rollout plan was handled as well as it could have been.
Eligible residents will be notified through the Missouri Vaccine Navigator portal. Those without internet can register ahead by calling 877-435-8411 but in-person registration will be taken at the Dome as well. Free parking will be available at 6th Street and Cole.
All Missouri adults will soon be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday the state is expanding its eligibility to Phase 2 on Monday March 29, and Phase 3 on Friday April 9.
The city of St. Louis's vaccination rate is far lower than the rest of the state as a whole. 16.8 percent of the city's residents have received at least one shot, compared to 24.5 percent of the state's total population.