According to County Judge Wade McKinney, Henderson County has been in discussions with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Department of State Health Services to provide a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
“We were approved for a pop-up vaccination clinic,” McKinney said. “Henderson County is moving heaven and earth to get vaccinations brought here and ensure they are open to those tiers that qualify. You will be seeing a DSHS vaccination clinic in Henderson County relatively soon, but it will be currently limited to 1A and 1B. Then the clinic will mostly likely set up again in 28 days.”
According to DSHS eligible participants include, people in Phase 1A, include front-line healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities. Phase 1B includes individuals 65 and older and 16 years and older with a chronic medical condition that puts them at an increased risk.
Eligibility decisions are based on providing protection to the most vulnerable populations and critical state resources first.
Henderson County does not have a designated health department making the vaccination program a public and private partnership. At the time of print there are three providers in Henderson County, Lakeland Medical Associates and Brookshire’s, providing vaccines. However they are currently out and a waiting list is forming.
The third, CVS Pharmacy has an agreement with the state of Texas to serve long-term care residents. Those eligible can join the waiting list by calling 903-617-6404 or visit www.nethealthcovid19.org/registerforyourfirstmodernavaccine and click the link.
The limited number of providers is partially due to mandatory extensive record keeping. The application process is also rigorous. All vaccinations are given free, other than wanting to be a public health service, there is no incentive to providers who face the corporate level task with small town staffing.
The entire administration process from ordering to follow up vaccines have to be highly monitored for minimum waste.
"Once the vaccine vial is opened it must be administered within 6 hours,” McKinney said.
Anything leftover after that time goes to waste and with a limited supply, that is not an option. Scheduling becomes a critical piece of the puzzle.
“It is all about how quickly you can get it from the vial and into the patient,” he said.
Patients are notified when to come back for the second and final dose when the entire scenario repeats.
“This is a completely different process compared to the flu vaccine for example,” McKinney said. “The independent pharmacy or provider may not have the resources required to participate in the extensive record keeping involved.”
There are 20 providers in Henderson and Kaufman counties in various phases of approval from DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control.
DSHS has identified 35,000 individuals in Henderson County who would benefit from the COVID-19 vaccination; 18,000 of those are over 65 years old, but only 3,300 vaccines have been allocated to date, and 1,500 have been administered.
Texas recently reached one million vaccinations administered, according the the Governor’s office. Quantity and distribution are determined by providers, the CDC, the vaccine allocation panel and health commissioner.
Current providers can be found at https://tdem.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=3700a84845c5470cb0dc3ddace5c376b. Select OK in the bottom right corner to view a map of providers.
DSHS estimates Spring 2021 for public distribution, but this is subject to change based on availability. Moderna is the most accessible vaccination at this time with Pfizer vowing to produce two million more doses in 2021.
It is estimated immunity takes one to two weeks after final vaccination. It is vital to continue following the CDC protocols while you wait.
Frequently asked questions can be found at www.dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine-faqs.aspx
Interested providers must register at EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov, and complete the agreement. After completing enrollment, you will receive an email confirming your registration. Once approved, you will receive another email confirming your status as a COVID‑19 vaccine provider.
A list of provider requirements is listed at: www.dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/immunize/provider-enrollment.aspx