(KMOV.com) - Frustration and anxiety continue as St. Louis-area residents scramble to get appointments for vaccines.
“I've been waiting and waiting and waiting,” said James Marti, 84, of Shrewsbury. He’s one of thousands wondering when they will get the call or email that it’s finally their turn.
According to a spokesperson for the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force, there are roughly 800,000 people signed up on the combined waiting lists for the area hospital systems.
“I would encourage people to have patience,” said Steve Frigo, the Executive Director of Pharmacy at Mercy Hospitals.
Right now, Mercy is vaccinating all of those in the current tiers. That includes remaining health care workers, those older than 65 and those with qualifying health conditions.
In less than two weeks, the state of Missouri will allow those who qualify for Phase 1B Tier 3 to receive the vaccine. On March 15, about 550,000 essential workers cross the state, including teachers and grocery store workers will be eligible. However, some St. Louis area residents who are eligible now, worry activating the new tier will make them wait for appointments even longer.
“We’re doing around 850-1,000 people a day, Monday-Friday,” said Frigo.
The rollout varies from hospital to hospital. Others in the Task Force group are focusing on the elderly, prioritizing those 70 and up. It all depends on supply. The state is sending 21,000 vaccines to the four St. Louis regional hospital systems this week. More than any other part of the state.
But still, concerns have been raised as Missouri plans to open up the next tier on March 15 which includes thousands of teachers, grocery store workers and other essential workers. According to the state, they will not prioritize Tier 1 and Tier 2 once Tier 3 opens, everyone will be considered “equally eligible.”
The St. Louis Archdiocese released a statement Tuesday encouraging followers to "examine the moral and eithical concerns" around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying that Catholics should avoid that particular dose if alternatives are available.
But certain hospitals have said they will continue to focus on the initial tiers. St. Louis County Health Department says they are following the state protocol but educators will get a leg up. St. Charles County Health Department plans to open up eligibility when the state does. With so much demand in the St. Louis region, and the news that some rural counties continue to have unused doses, News 4 is pressing Governor Mike Parson for more specifics about when more vaccines will come to the urban areas.
“When we get to March 15, we are going to open that up to different levels. So you’ll see more pharmacies, more health care facilities and then you’ll probably see what I call a ‘true mass vaccination’ in Kansas city and St. Louis. We’ll probably send the [National Guard] up there. For example, maybe we go to Arrowhead [Stadium]. We go up there, we set up a site and do 6,000 vaccines a day, especially with the Johnson and Johnson,’ said Parson.
News 4 has learned the City of St. Louis has had conversations with the Dome at America's Center and Enterprise Center but we’ve been told it all depends on if there’s enough vaccine to hold such a large-scale event.