Galveston County sees slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

With COVID-19 case counts rising at record-high rates in Galveston County, Bay Area residents are awaiting additional vaccine doses as they trickle in.

Walter Hall Park in League City closed to the public Jan. 19 as the county prepares the park to become a potential mass COVID-19 vaccination site. The park, located at 807 Hwy. 3 North, will remain closed for the next 60 to 90 days.

If it becomes a hub, it would join two others currently established in the county: One is at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston and the other hub is at the Galveston County Health District, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Galveston County Health District received a shipment of 1,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines the week of Jan. 18. Residents over age 65 were eligible to make appointments. All 400 slots available the week of Jan. 4 were filled within about two hours, GCHD Director of Communications Ashley Tompkins said in an email.

“Everybody [under age 65] just needs to be patient,” said Noel Cardenas, the CEO of Memorial Hermann Southeast and Pearland Hospitals. “It’s going to take some time.”

Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the body organizing vaccine operations and sending doses to individual facilities, shows about 3,536 people out of the 267,032 county residents age 16 and up have been fully vaccinated as of Jan. 19; 18,102 have received one dose.

All Phase 1A and 1B individuals—front-line health care workers, residents at long-term care facilities, people over age 65 and those considered high risk—are eligible to receive a vaccine at “hubs” in one of more than 50 counties, regardless of where they live, per the DSHS website. There are six hubs in nearby Harris County as of Jan. 19.

Todd Caliva, the CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, said he is “super encouraged” with the initial vaccine rollout.

“I’m very hopeful that we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

The University of Texas Medical Branch system administered 2,000 vaccines a day during the week of Jan. 4, said Stephen Jones, UTMB’s vice president of hospital strategy and CEO of the Clear Lake campus.

In all, more than 12,000 first doses were provided, and about 3,000 people were fully vaccinated. About 10,000 people are lined up to receive a second dose, he said, adding the distribution timeline continues to remain uncertain and ever evolving.

“I assure you ... every health system is doing everything they can to provide the vaccines in a safe manner,” Jones said.
By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.



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