Young, healthy get vaccine in St. Louis, prompting questions

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 10:11 AM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 11:11:54-05

ST LOUIS — St. Louis officials are looking into concerns raised after young and healthy people were invited to a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, but older people with chronic health conditions were not.

The clinic was set up Saturday at Union Station. Jessi Kniffen, a healthy 39-year-old who works from home, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she was surprised when she got the invitation on Friday. Kniffen thought she'd have a much longer wait, since the early shots are supposed to be for people age 65 or older, with chronic health conditions or with jobs that put them at high risk.

"I was surprised by it, but filled out the form and got vaccinated because we've been told that when you get a chance to be vaccinated that you should," Kniffen said. "I didn't know if I turned down this opportunity, if I would get booted from the city's vaccination list."

Others who are elderly or have underlying health conditions reported not getting an invitation despite registering with the city.

Marva Borders, 68, has sarcoidosis, hypertension and heart issues. She lives walking distance from Union Station but wasn't invited, said her daughter, Dorris Scott.

Scott, 36, volunteered in the trial for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine because of the lack of volunteers among minorities.

"As a family we have done all we can, and it is frustrating that our vulnerable groups are not getting the information that we need," Scott said.

About 1,800 people ended up getting doses at Union Station, the site of the city's first large-scale vaccination event.

Alderman Christine Ingrassia said she heard from 20 to 30 people who received vaccines at the event and later figured out they were not yet eligible under state guidelines.

Mayor Lyda Krewson's spokesman, Jacob Long, said the city is looking into the concerns and said city leaders felt the event was a "tremendous success" overall. Aldermen said at least two city committees are looking into problems with the rollout.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis County, restaurants, bars and banquet centers can now stay open an hour later, until 11 p.m. County Executive Sam Page announced the extended curfew on Sunday, citing continuing decline in cases.

Establishments were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity earlier this month after being closed to indoor dining since mid-November. Until Monday, closing time was 10 p.m.

As of Monday, Missouri has reported 459,597 confirmed cases of the virus, and 6,748 deaths.