Nueces County prepares for greater COVID-19 vaccine demand after Texas expands eligibility
Nueces County officials are preparing for greater vaccine quantities when the state expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility next week.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday that everyone age 16 and older, regardless of their occupation or health, can get a vaccine starting March 29.
Of the three vaccines currently available, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for people 16 and up. Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are authorized for people 18 and up.
Annette Rodriguez, director of the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District, said the health district received 20,000 doses from the state this week and expects 20,000 next week. (Those allocations comprise 5,000 earmarked as first doses and 15,000 as second doses.)
As the state’s supply increases, the health district hopes to get a weekly allocation of at least 25,000, if not more, to keep up with the growing demand, Rodriguez said.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment. We’re excited,” she said. “They just have to send us doses. They send us vaccine, and we’ll be vaccinating people as quickly as we can.”
She said local officials have made different plans in the event of double or triple the number of vaccines.
That includes increasing the number of locations where people can receive shots, which has already been underway.
For example, using “strike teams,” the health district has vaccinated teachers and school employees at Church Unlimited and West Oso High School, and tried to reach high-risk Black residents with a drive-thru clinic at St. John Baptist Church.
Officials are still trying to reach people who are 70 and older, and they’re considering creating a drive-thru at the health district on Horne Road.
The smaller locations would run while the mass vaccination hubs at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds and the American Bank Center continue, Rodriguez said.
She added that people should get a vaccine wherever one is available and not wait for vaccines to arrive at their preferred location.
“If they see vaccines available somewhere, even if they have an appointment for three days from that date, go ahead and get it,” Rodriguez said. “You can always cancel your appointment.
“We’re trying not to waste not even one dose in our county. The sooner you get it, the more likely you are not to get COVID-19. The safer you’ll be, the safer the rest of the community will be.”
Vicky Camarillo covers Nueces County and statewide issues. See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.