Breckenridge Texan

As State of Texas shifts COVID-19 vaccine distribution to hubs, SMH closes local waitlist

As State of Texas shifts COVID-19 vaccine distribution to hubs, SMH closes local waitlist
February 05
15:30 2021

By Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

With fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccines going to rural areas in favor of major hubs that the State of Texas has created, Stephens Memorial announced this week that they will no longer be taking sign-ups on their vaccine waitlist.

Chris Curtis, director of business development at Stephens Memorial Hospital, said local health officials are recommending that anybody who can travel to one of the hubs to get vaccinated should do so to help alleviate the vaccine situation in Stephens County. The State of Texas has started sending allocations of the vaccine to the major hubs being set up around the state, which will reduce the amount of vaccine doses sent to rural counties.

“We feel, at this time, it would be in the best interest of the safety and health of our community if those that are able to travel to one of the hubs do so to get vaccinated in a more timely manner so that we can use what little vaccine we receive for those unable to travel,” Curtis said in an email. “We will continue to request vaccine each week and administer it to our community as we receive it, but with the minimal amounts we are receiving, we feel it is not a sustainable plan to get our community vaccinated so that we can all be fully protected.”

Click the following link to read a letter that Texas Rep. Glenn Rogers and two other state representatives sent to Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, requesting that more vaccines be sent to rural communities: Letter requesting more vaccines

The Hubs

Curtis said each of the hubs have their own sign-up and operations procedures and he recommends contacting a specific hub to sign up and get vaccinated instead of just showing up at the facility. Additionally, he said, everyone needs to be aware that those who receive their first dose of the vaccine at one of the hubs will need to get their second dose of the vaccine at the same hub.

The hubs closest to Breckenridge, according to Curtis, are:

You can also visit www.smhtx.com to view links to a map of the hubs as well as vaccine available at other facilities.

For more details about the State of Texas’ current vaccine plan, click the following link:

Texas to receive more than 500,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week

The state of Texas will receive 520,425 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government for the week of Feb. 1. The Texas Department of State Health Services has instructed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ship those doses to 344 providers in 166 counties across Texas. That includes 82 hub providers that will focus on broader community vaccination efforts including the hardest hit populations and areas in exchange for a steady supply of vaccine from week to week. Then, 262 other providers will receive doses next week, including more than 100 federally qualified health centers, community health centers, and rural health clinics that typically provide primary care for underserved populations.

The increase in vaccine available is due to two factors: a 30 percent increase in the number of Moderna doses being provide to the state by the federal government, and a one-time return of 126,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that Texas was required to set aside for the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. The program overestimated the amount of vaccine needed, so doses are being given back to the states.

DSHS is allocating the doses from the long-term care program to providers in counties where allocations have been significantly less than their share of the population, particularly in the suburban Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas.

In addition to the first doses mentioned above, the state is ordering 188,225 doses intended as the second dose for people first vaccinated a few weeks ago. DSHS is working with providers to make sure that they order the number of second doses they need at the appropriate time. People should be able to return to the same provider to receive their second dose.

Texas providers have administered nearly 2.2 million doses of vaccine. More than 1.75 million people have received at least one dose, and more than 410,000 have been fully vaccinated. People are not required to be vaccinated in their county of residence, and vaccine has been administered to residents of all 254 counties.

Texas continues to vaccinate health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people 65 and older and those with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Vaccine remains limited based on the capacity of the manufacturers to produce it, so it will take time for Texas to receive enough vaccine for all the people in the priority populations who want to be vaccinated. Currently, there is not enough vaccine to supply every provider with vaccine every week. Additional vaccines are in clinical trials, and Johnson & Johnson could request authorization for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration as early as next month.

Texas continues to vaccinate health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people 65 and older and those with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Vaccine remains limited based on the capacity of the manufacturers to produce it, so it will take time for Texas to receive enough vaccine for all the people in the priority populations who want to be vaccinated. Currently, there is not enough vaccine to supply every provider with vaccine every week. Additional vaccines are in clinical trials, and Johnson & Johnson could request authorization for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration as early as next month.

People can find more information on COVID-19 vaccine at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine.aspx.

The Local Waitlist

Curtis said more than 2,000 people have signed up on the SMH list to get the vaccine when it becomes available.

In the eight weeks that the State has been distributing the vaccine, Stephens County has received about 500 doses of the vaccine, said Ashley Woodrum, Quality Director for SMH. Most of those vaccines have already been administered, and some will be administered next week to those who are scheduled to get their second shot.

However, with SMH receiving the vaccine in shipments ranging from 100 to 300 doses and some weeks not receiving any at all, it will take months to get the community vaccinated, Curtis said. That is why local officials are asking those who are able to travel to go to Abilene, Weatherford or Henrietta to get their shots. That way, the few local doses that are received in Breckenridge can be used for people who can’t easily travel out of town.

Curtis said if someone has already received their first dose of the vaccine through SMH and is due next week for a second dose, they will need to get their second dose here and will be called to set up an appointment. The second dose of vaccines will also be administered at First Baptist Church.

Anyone who originally signed up on the local waitlist and then decides to get the vaccine at another location can either call SMH and let them know or simply tell the SMH employee when they are called to set up an appointment.

Pharmacies

In addition to vaccines being sent to hospitals and health centers in the hubs, the Centers for Disease Control has also launched a program that partners the federal government with pharmacies, where the vaccines will be administered to the public, similar to the way they offer flu shots.

According to the CDC website, multiple pharmacies are signed up for the program, including Walmart and CVS pharmacies. Although the list of which specific pharmacies will be getting vaccines has not been confirmed, both local pharmacies are reportedly preparing to participate in the program.

For more information about the CDC’s Pharmacy Program, click here to visit the CDC website.

Continued distribution

SMH will continue to request vaccine doses each week, Curtis said, and they will continue to work down their waiting lists based on the criteria detailed by the CDC.

When the hospital receives notice that they will be getting a specified number of vaccine doses, they begin calling people on the waitlist to schedule appointments. The vaccines are administered at First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center by trained professionals who are wearing protective gear.

Each person who receives the vaccine will need to get two doses with the second dose being administered a month after the first. Two weeks after receiving the first dose, a person should have about 75 percent immunity from COVID-19. And, two weeks after receiving the second dose, they should be about 97 percent immune, Woodrum said.

There is no cost to the person to get the vaccine.

Everyone receiving the vaccine has had positive attitudes, she said.

“They’re so grateful and thankful to be receiving it,” Woodrum said. “And, we’re just honored to be able to do that for them.”

 

Cutline, top photo: Stephens Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors President Dr. Tom Echols, DVM, receives a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday morning, Feb. 5, by Ashley Woodrum, a nurse and Quality Director for Stephens Memorial Hospital, while Christy Begeman, SMH Chief Nursing Officer, looks over paperwork. The hospital staff sets up in First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center to administer the vaccine because it is roomy enough for everyone to social distance. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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