Coronavirus vaccine distribution begins in Fort Bend County

“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”
“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”

“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”

The local distribution of the coronavirus vaccine began last month, with Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land being the first to receive a Pfizer vaccine shipment in the area. Additional hospitals and local pharmacies received shipments from both Pfizer and Moderna the following week.

“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”

So far, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are the only ones available in Texas—but a trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine should yield results early this year and could lead to its distribution, the process for which is decided by the state.

“Texas has convened a team of appointed external and internal subject-matter experts into the COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) to develop vaccine allocation strategies as recommendations to the Texas Commissioner of Health,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Minter, the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services director, in an email.

The distribution process is taking place in phases, beginning with individuals allocated to Phase 1A—hospital staff working directly with COVID-19 and high-risk patients.


“Protecting health care workers is essential to keeping the health care system intact and able to care for COVID-19 and other patients, so Phase 1A of vaccine distribution, when the vaccine supply is most limited, will focus on making vaccine available to health care workers,” Minter said. “To support this distribution, the EVAP has recommended, and the Commissioner of Health has approved, a tiered definition of health care workers specific to Phase 1A.”

Phase 1B, which began in Houston at the beginning of the month, extended to individuals outside of the health care industry, focusing on those who have a greater risk from the virus that causes COVID-19. That group includes those age 65 and older and individuals age 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness.

The second tier of vaccines includes direct care staff in freestanding emergency medical care facilities and urgent care clinics; community pharmacy staff who may provide direct services to clients, including vaccination or testing for individuals who may have COVID-19; public health and emergency response staff directly involved in administration of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations; last responders who provide mortuary or death services to decedents with COVID-19; and school nurses.

On Jan. 4, Fort Bend County announced it had received 1,000 vaccines and would begin contacting preregistered individuals to schedule their first dose, but according to its website, Fort Bend County’s coronavirus vaccine preregistration was full as of that date.

“We have requested that more vaccine be made available to our citizens,” George said. “We are working very closely with the concerned authorities, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it is distributed in an orderly manner.”

George said the county has requested “hundreds of thousands” of vaccines, but the actual allocation remains up to the state. While preregistration for the vaccine has filled up, George said registration for future vaccine shipments will open soon. According to the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services website, “registration will re-open once a significant number of registrants are vaccinated or FBHHS receives a larger allotment of the vaccine.”

Registering, however, does not necessarily mean someone will be next in line for vaccination, George said. Prioritization of the distribution at that point will defer to the Health and Human Services Department.

“As soon as they make them available, we will get the information out,” George said. “We are eventually going to open up a registration process where you could sign up—you could register—to get a COVID vaccine when it is available.”

As of Jan. 7, Harris County had provided the first dose of the vaccine to 69,900 individuals, with Fort Bend County at 10,782, according to the Texas Health and Human Services website. During that distribution, Fort Bend County has focused on first responders, health care workers and medical providers.

“We are ready to receive this vaccine,” George said before the initial shipment of 1,000 doses was received by the county. “We are ready to administer the vaccine. ... We are ready to get to work.”

As the county awaits additional shipments, George and Minter both reiterated the need for continued precautions.

“Please continue to keep your guard up,” George said. “Wear your masks. Wash your hands. ... Be patient.”

Details regarding vaccine distribution in Fort Bend County can be found at www.fbchealth.org.
By Laura Aebi
Laura Aebi is the editor of the Katy and Sugar Land/Missouri City editions of Community Impact Newspaper. She graduated from Texas State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Originally from North Texas, Laura relocated to Houston after spending three years in Pacific Northwest. Previously, she interned with two radio stations in Central Texas and held the role of features editor at the San Marcos Daily Record.


MOST RECENT

For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

Fort Bend County is currently running four COVID-19 vaccination sites as well as one mobile team, (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Fort Bend County nearing a turning point in fight against COVID-19, health authority says

With COVID-19 vaccine distribution moving at a steady pace and more updates to the state’s list of who is eligible to receive one expected soon, Fort Bend County is approaching a turning point in the pandemic, the county’s local health authority said March 4.

FBISD chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates following presentations from three search firms during a March 3 special meeting. (Community Impact staff)
Fort Bend ISD board of trustees selects search firm to conduct hunt for next superintendent

FBISD chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates following presentations from three search firms during a March 3 special meeting.

This month, the Greater Houston area will mark the anniversaries of its first confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as the first deaths attributed to the pandemic. (Courtesy Pexels)
Share your story: Have you lost anyone to COVID-19?

This month, the Greater Houston area will mark the anniversaries of its first confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as the first deaths attributed to the pandemic.

People wait in line to receive a vaccine at an Austin Public Health vaccination site. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas offers COVID-19 vaccinations to school, child care workers

Educators, school staff and child care professionals are qualified to receive coronavirus vaccines effective immediately.

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that Texas' statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, the Texas Education Agency released updated public health guidance March 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Updated Texas Education Agency guidance allows individual school boards to determine mask policies

"Under this updated guidance, a public school system's current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy," the release reads.

H-E-B will continue to require employees to wear face masks until further notice. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require employees, ask customers to be masked despite upcoming expiration of governor's mandate

H-E-B officials announced their employees and vendors would still be required to be masked while on the job, and customers would be encouraged to wear masks while in stores.

A mandate will remain in effect for the time being requiring all riders to weak masks on vehicles run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, officials announced March 3.  (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
Mask mandate to remain in effect for all METRO vehicles, properties

The announcement comes one day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded his mask order for the state.

Design on a transportation project to extend Soldiers Field Drive in Sugar Land is nearing completion. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Design of Soldiers Field Drive extension in Sugar Land nearing completion, construction to follow

The city of Sugar Land expects construction on Soldiers Field Drive to begin in fiscal year 2021-22, following the completion of the Hwy. 6 road widening project.

Fort Bend ISD officials hope to bring the names for two new district schools before the board of trustees for approval in April. (Courtesy Nathan Colbert)
Fort Bend ISD seeks community input on names for two new district schools

Fort Bend ISD officials hope to bring the names for two new district schools before the board of trustees for approval in April.

Photo from inside a movie theater
Alamo Drafthouse files for bankruptcy, closes theaters in downtown Austin and New Braunfels

Most theaters will remain open under an asset purchase agreement to the company's senior lending partners.