Galveston County health officials to focus on small-scale vaccination efforts

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Public health staffers and volunteers in the Bay Area have shifted their COVID-19 vaccination focus to smaller-scale sites and efforts in Galveston County for the summer.

At the beginning of the year, Walter Hall Park, located just off Hwy. 3 in League City, was transformed to allow residents to drive up and receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This site was chosen in part because it is county property and could be used for as long as necessary, said Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority.

The Walter Hall site was initially meant to be one of several, but it was effective enough the county chose not to open more, he added. The site provided over 100,000 vaccines and operated from mid-January until May 1, by which time demand had significantly decreased, Keiser said.

The eventual lack of a need for a large-scale site indicates the Walter Hall hub was effective, and the county can now focus on providing several hundred doses at a time in at-risk communities versus thousands of doses a day, Keiser said.

“We view [the Walter Hall site] as a real success,” he said.

About half of the county’s population age 12 and over is fully vaccinated as of June 20, according to state data. County efforts will be focused on providing vaccines in clinics and in areas where there is the most need for vaccinations, Keiser said.

About 3 in every 4 county residents are likely to get vaccinated, Keiser estimated. While some areas are having a difficult time getting Black residents vaccinated, Keiser said, the Galveston area is doing really well with Black vaccination rates.

The county is focusing on those hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated in the hopes of reaching a 60% to 70% vaccination rate, which Keiser said would signal a return to prepandemic conditions.

“We’re getting there, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said.

Clinics are located at the Galveston and League City University of Texas Medical Branch campuses as well as at Galveston County Health District. Keiser said the GCHD also plans to keep opening clinics at schools: Both Clear Creek and Friendswood ISDs have already hosted vaccination events for students and community members.

Corrie Levine, a public health student studying for her doctorate through UTMB, has volunteered at both large- and small-scale county vaccination sites during COVID-19. Getting vaccines out to willing vaccine recipients is essential, she said.

“That’s really what we need to do right now is be out in the community [and offer] doses day and night to anyone who wants it,” she said.

While residents may hear stories about the negative effects or aspects of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, Keiser emphasized the health district’s trust in the efficacy of the shots.

“I’m not asking people to do anything that I haven’t done for myself and that I haven’t done for my family,” he said. “It’s time to get your vaccine.”
By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.



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