News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research Center for Dissemination & Implementation COVID-19

As variant cases continue, the Institute collaborates with community & university partners to provide 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Three members of the same family line up to get vaccinated at Centennial Church

Have you heard of “Our Community, Our Health-St. Louis”? Spearhead by the Institute for Public Health and the Institute of Clinical & Translational Sciences in partnership with several St. Louis community-based organizations, it is a collaborative effort to provide  COVID-19 primary and booster vaccinations to individuals in their own homes or neighborhoods.

Funded by both institutes, the project’s objective is to bring 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to people “where they are”. BJC HealthCare prioritized 15 St. Louis zip codes that have had the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates and highest Covid-19 hospitalization rates.

Since the program began in August of this year, more than 270 vaccines have been administered within priority zip codes, at area church pop-up events, mobile food markets, community service agencies and senior housing facilities, or through curbside and at-home delivery. The objective is not only for the project team to administer first-time or booster vaccines, but also to learn from those served about how our health system might better serve people most disconnected from the healthcare system in the future.

Of the doses administered, 68% percent were given to the most vulnerable age group (age 55+). Among people ages 20 to 45, 40% of those vaccinated received a primary dose. The team hopes to administer the 1000 doses during the one-year grant period but is already thinking about how to sustain and build the program.

OCOH-STL team with volunteer Bettie Lee (front in red) and Mayor Terry Epps of Pinelawn (far right).  Mayor Epps invited the OCOH-STL team to vaccinate residents during a monthly food distribution event. Individuals receive a vaccine curbside after picking up groceries.

The project team consists of:

  • A cadre of WashU clinicians to administer vaccinations
  • An ever-growing list of community organizations who want to make the Covid-19 vaccine more available to their constituencies, including Centennial Christian Church, Wesley House Association (community service organization), Beyond Housing, the City of Pine Lawn, and the City of Wellston
  • Local community health workers
  • A coordinating team with representation from the WUSTL School of Medicine, the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research and the Center for Dissemination and Implementation at the Institute for Public Health; the Institute for Clinical & Translational Sciences; and the Genome Institute   

“I feel so privileged to be part of this pop-up clinic. One thing that has surprised me is how joyful it can get in the tent — people singing and dancing to celebrate a vaccination or to support another person who is feeling fearful. Getting a vaccination is a moment of great opportunity as well as one marked with hesitancy. I’m blessed to witness that feeling of opportunity bloom.”  — Anne Trolard, staff scientist and program team member

Quontisha Parker is happy that she received her first COVID vaccination at Centennial Church