UPDATE: The COVID-19 vaccine clinic set for Monday in Longview is now full.
The scramble to get the COVID-19 vaccine continues for many — even for those who are eligible — as East Texas facilities work to find more ways to distribute them to residents.
Despite more vaccines coming to the area, how people can get them in many cases remains unclear; however, area hospitals on Wednesday announced additional distribution plans. Longview Regional Medical Center has set a vaccine clinic for Monday in conjunction with the city and county; meanwhile, Christus Trinity clinics have some doses of the vaccine available to be scheduled online.
Longview Regional Medical Center announced Wednesday that it was partnering with the Longview Fire Department, City of Longview, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and the Gregg County Health Department to host a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for individuals in the first tier of the state’s vaccination program. The first tier includes health care workers, frontline workers, people over 65 and those in long-term care facilities.
The walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the Longview Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, 1123 Jaycee Drive. Longview Regional Medical Center has 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine to administer; however all of the spots available for the clinic were full on Thursday morning.
“We look forward to this opportunity to inoculate and care for our East Texas community, and hope to see residents 65 years and older take this opportunity to protect themselves against COVID-19,” said Mike Ellis, interim CEO of Longview Regional Medical Center.
Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said Wednesday the county met with the Northeast Texas Public Health District on Tuesday to work on how to approach hosting a vaccine clinic.
Neither the county clinic nor its immunization clinic have the vaccines. Browne said the county would need to get vaccines through the state and NET Health to have a clinic.
“We have a contingency plan, but until we know how many doses of vaccines we could get, we can’t finalize it,” he said. “We’ll still have to be doing the first tier of people and if we can get those vaccinated then we can start going to the other populations.”
Difficulty gaining access to the vaccine stem from the logistics involved with shipping issues, Browne said.
“You have to use all the vaccine doses that you have before you can get more shipments,” he said. “They’re working on the second shipment of Pfizer at hospitals. The shipping containers are very expensive and reusable, so there’s finite use on that and they won’t ship you your second dose until you use all of the ones you have.”
Browne said officials do not know when the vaccines will be sent until they are shipped, and the state has to approve who can get the vaccines.
The Pfizer vaccine also needs certain equipment to keep it cold so it does not go bad, he said.
At Christus, the health system said in a written statement Wednesday that the Christus Trinity clinics are preparing to distribute the vaccine.
The vaccines will be administered by appointment only and for those who fall in the 1B category, which includes people age 65 and older and those who are 18 to 64 with a chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk of illness.
Appointments can be made on the Christus Trinity Clinic website at https://www.christushealth.org/trinity/clinic/coronavirus .
“Our hospital partners vaccinated many of the health care workers in Phase 1A, which includes only health care workers and long-term care residents, and this vaccine is still available to them,” Chief Operating Officer Christy Bush said. “However, we are now able to offer this to the next group of patients in Phase 1B, while closely following and Texas State guidelines and public health experts’ recommendations for administering the vaccine.”
Two opportunities to get the vaccine have been scheduled in neighboring Harrison County. County Judge Chad Sims announced Wednesday that Brookshires Pharmacy in Hallsville will have 144 doses of COVID-19 vaccine available by appointment only on Friday at the Marshall Convention Center.
The appointment can be made with Brookshires or the county health department.
The county judge also said the Marshall Harrison County Health District has been allocated 100 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that it will begin administering on Monday, by appointment only.
Some doses of the vaccine, however, continue to be administered in the area.
On Wednesday, a team from CVS Pharmacy administered the first round of the Pfizer vaccine to around 200 residents and staff members at Parkview on Hollybrook in Longview.
Executive Director Kelly Ainsworth said he believes the senior living community was among the first senior facilities in the East Texas area to be able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to staff and residents. Ainsworth added that the second dose will be administered on Jan. 27.
According to Ainsworth, since the beginning of the pandemic, the facility has had eight reported cases of the virus.
“Getting this vaccine really sets our residents and their family members at ease,” said Stacy Duncan, Sales and Marketing Director.
Residents arrived individually or in very small groups to finalize paperwork and get their injections.
“They did a good job,” resident Patsy Hardaway said after receiving her injection, “I didn’t feel a thing.”
Duncan said residents have been excited about receiving the vaccine.
“After finding out last month we’d be getting it,” she said, “our residents have been chomping at the bit to get their vaccinations.”
The Marshall Manor Nursing and Rehab center in Marshall on Tuesday distributed 100 doses of the vaccine.