CoronavirusNewsThe SouthSider

South City Hospital holds vaccination event at housing authority

PEABODY DARST WEBBE – All jabbed up, a man who insisted on being known as Antoine Phillips sat in a mostly empty recovery area at the St. Louis Housing Authority. He’d done his part to stop COVID-19, and now it was time for others to do theirs.

Phillips lives near the authority at 1401 LaSalle Street and came with a friend to get his shot of the Pfizer vaccine when he heard about a vaccination clinic at the building Saturday morning and afternoon. 

The event was held by the Demetrious Johnson Foundation, the South City Hospital, the St. Louis City NAACP, the housing authority and others. 

““Not everyone in the community has transportation or time off work to get to a vaccination site during the weekday” Johnson said in a statement. “We knew it was important to bring the vaccine shots directly into the community which I grew up in.” 

“We are enthusiastic to provide shots to the community and truly grateful for all of our partners who worked so hard to help make this event happen,” Greg Brentano, CEO of South City Hospital, said in the same statement. 

So far, South City Hospital has provided more than 7,000 shots. 

“Today, we’re out doing a community event, trying to get as many people in our community vaccinated as possible, Brentano said in a break from working at the vaccination clinic.

“We feel that there’s been some access issues to the vaccine. People have a difficult time getting to the mass vaccination sites,” Brentano explained. “So we’re coming right here to this community and where hundreds of people live within a hundred yards, right here in the center of it.”

Numerous public housing units are close by.

To bring people in for their vaccinations, the event included live music, free food, drinks and a raffle for $500. 

Helping out was Dave Rau, director of pharmacy at South City Hospital.

“We’ve been giving vaccinations at our hospital, to the general public and different special groups throughout St. Louis. We did the St. Louis City firefighters. We’ve done Down Syndrome kids that were part of the Albert Pujols Foundations, Ameren Electric, St. Louis City Water. A lot of different groups in St. Louis City,” Rau said.

There haven’t been many bad reactions so far, Rau said.

“Occasionally, people don’t feel good afterwards,” Rau said. “We tell them their side effects. You may have a headache, you may have extreme fatigue, you may have injection-side arm pain, but we haven’t had anybody come back to us and say, ‘I had this severe major reaction,’ because there just aren’t any, really.”

Halfway through the event, Rau said the hope was that about 200 would be vaccinated.

“We anticipate giving about 100,” he said.

A volunteer nurse said the big thing people asked her was whether the shots would hurt.

“I explain to them, you’d rather get the shot than come down with COVID; and most of the people I’ve encountered, they are more than willing to do the shot,” the nurse said. “I have not really encountered anybody who’s had side effects to it or not wanting the shot.”

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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