Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County not on initial list for COVID-19 vaccine; local officials ask community to wear masks

Stephens County not on initial list for COVID-19 vaccine; local officials ask community to wear masks
December 17
11:00 2020

Although Texas has received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Stephens County officials have not been informed about when the vaccine will arrive locally.

Stephens Memorial Hospital officials have written the following letter to the community explaining the process of how the vaccine will be distributed. The letter is signed by Doug Smith, Interim CEO of SMH; Dr. William Prater; Christy Begeman, Chief Nursing Officer; and, Ashley Woodrum, Quality Manager.

“With news of the vaccine being distributed to some of the larger surrounding communities, we wanted to provide an update to our citizens. We have not been made aware when we will receive the vaccine. The State has developed a logic-model that will determine in what order the vaccine will be given and what communities will be receiving it in what order. We are registered to receive it and are prepared to start administering it as soon as it arrives. We will also be bound by that logic-model to give the vaccine to certain groups in a certain order.

The CDC has released a ‘playbook’ that will be used in helping determine distribution. This information and more can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov/vaccines. Once we receive more information on when we may be receiving the vaccine, we will do our best to keep the community informed.

While we wait for the vaccine, there are many things you can do to protect yourself and those around you . You can make a difference by holding yourself and others accountable and follow precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please follow the Governor’s Executive Order to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when inside and outdoors if six feet of distance cannot be maintained between yourself and others outside your household. Wearing a mask not only protects the wearer, but also those around you. Cancel or do not attend social indoor gatherings, sporting events, concerts, community events, small gatherings, etc., as well as outdoor events where social distancing cannot be maintained.

We continue to struggle finding ICU beds for our critically ill patients, which is why it is imperative that we all do our part to stay safe and protect those around us. You, our community, are our front line of defense.”

According to information from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas was allocated 224,250 doses of vaccine to be shipped to 110 providers across the state in Week 1 of distribution. Stephens Memorial Hospital is not on that list of providers scheduled to receive the vaccine this week. The distribution schedule of future doses of the vaccine has not been released yet.

Last week, when the Week 1 distribution list was released, Texas Representative-elect Dr. Glenn Rogers requested the state reconsider its initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan to include more rural areas.

In a letter to State Health Services Commissioner Dr. Hellerstedt and the Governor’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, Rogers noted that no rural hospitals are currently scheduled to receive the vaccine in the initial distribution. This is in direct contradiction to the state’s distribution policy which he said promised geographic diversity through a balanced approach that considers access in urban and rural communities.

“More than three million Texans who live in rural areas are affected by this distribution plan,” Rogers said in a news release. “The average age of Rural Texans is older and surveys have demonstrated increased co-morbidities such as hypertension and diabetes, making rural populations even more susceptible to COVID. Many rural Texans could be forced to travel hundreds of miles, which, in some cases, could take hours – if not days. This disproportionately impacts those fellow Texans not living in urban centers and who may not have the transportation or financial means to travel.

“However, I am hopeful that Commissioner Hellerstedt and the panel will reconsider this distribution plan and make allowances for rural Texas,” Rogers continued.

To download a copy of the community letter from SMH officials, click here.

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