COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Syringes containing the COVID-19 vaccine lie on a table for patients to receive at the Refugio County Community Center in December.

Registration for 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Victoria health officials said.

Residents can sign up online or by phone for an appointment to receive a dose of the vaccine. The Victoria County Public Health Department received 1,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday. You can schedule an appointment starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday by visiting apptoto.com/b/vctxcovid or by calling the COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 361-580-5796. The vaccine hotline is open weekdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“We realize 1,000 doses of vaccine may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t in the grand scheme of things, so we really ask the public to be patient with us as we receive slowly more vaccine,” said David Gonzales, the director of the county health department. “It’s going to be a little while to where we’re able to get enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants it.”

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in Texas has caused frustration and confusion among residents in the five weeks since the first shot was injected in the state in December. Currently, there are more Texans eligible to receive the vaccine than there are doses to give to them, leaving scores of people most at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 trying to find a provider with doses to spare. As of Tuesday, Texans in Phase 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccination plan can receive the vaccine. In Texas, those groups include all front-line health-care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and staff and some other professions with a high chance of being exposed to the virus, as well as anyone over the age of 65 or anyone over the age of 16 with certain medical conditions.

Both vaccine providers and patients alike have limited information from the state health department about when and how much vaccine will be available throughout the state. For the last six weeks, the state has been announcing vaccine allocations once a week, and providers typically receive no or very short advanced notice if they will receive doses.

Gonzales said he is hopeful that Victoria County will begin to receive more regular vaccine allocations now that the health department has partnered with local hospitals, the Victoria Fire Department, Victoria’s Office of Emergency Management and the city and county governments to become a designated vaccine hub.

He said in applying for designation as a vaccine hub, the department communicated that “It wasn’t just the health department doing this on their own. It was a combined effort really with all the hospitals and city and county together working to get this done.”

The agencies working together to create the vaccine hub include Citizens Medical Center, DeTar Healthcare System, and the Post Acute Medical specialty hospitals. The different agencies and providers have agreed that if other providers receive large shipments of the vaccine, a mass vaccination clinic involving all of the partner agencies will be the quickest way to distribute those doses.

Gonzales said he expects all 1,000 doses of the vaccine will be distributed at Thursday’s vaccine clinic. Doses will only be available to people who have made an appointment in advance, so residents should not show up without an appointment. Public health leaders said they chose an appointment-based system to avoid large crowds of people gathering in lines and to ensure that residents aren’t waiting in lines for hours only to have vaccine doses used up.

“We would rather have the congestion on the front end when folks are just at their home calling in or on their computer,” Gonzales said. “We know there’s going to be frustration there, and we’re going to apologize ahead of time because it’s going to happen”

Anyone in Phase 1A or 1B of the state’s plan is eligible to receive a dose at Thursday’s clinic.

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Ciara McCarthy covers public health and health care for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health and health care for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. Questions, tips, or ideas? Please get in touch: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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