Need more information on who is eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Texas and how the process works? Visit the Tribune's vaccination FAQ here.
Three federally-run mass vaccination sites aimed at underserved communities are expected to open before the end of the month in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.
The sites will be run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency management officials, and are described as “pilot sites” in the national effort to speed up the nation's COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort.
The sites, which are currently being adapted for the effort, are NRG Stadium in Houston, AT&T Stadium in Arlington and Fair Park in Dallas. All three are expected to open on Feb. 24, with more details to be released later about how eligible Texans can register for the vaccine in those locations, Abbott said.
More sites in Texas could be added if the pilots are successful, FEMA officials said.
Combined, the three sites are expected to administer more than 10,000 shots per day, said Seth Christensen, spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
“These mass community sites will allow us to expand access to COVID-19 vaccinations in underserved communities and help us mitigate the spread of the virus," Abbott said in a statement. "Thank you to our partners at FEMA for working with the state of Texas to establish these vaccination sites and help us protect our most vulnerable."
Communities of color are not only being disproportionately affected by the virus, but also receiving the vaccine in lower numbers than their white counterparts.
The sites are part of a national effort to achieve President Biden’s goal of administering 1.5 million shots per day and make the vaccine widely available by spring.
Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas?
As of March 29, all people 16 and older are eligible for vaccines in Texas. The state began by offering doses to front-line health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, Texans who are 65 and older, and people with qualifying health conditions. School staff, Head Start program staff and child care staff were eligible starting March 3, and Texans 50 and older were eligible starting March 15.
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Check with your local health care provider or public health department. The vaccine will be available at more than 80 vaccination hubs across the state and some pharmacies, clinics and hospitals. Most providers are also requiring Texans to register for appointments to get the vaccine to minimize traffic flow. The state has a map of providers that are offering the vaccine here.
I’ve called every provider in my area and I cannot find a vaccine. What gives?
We’ve heard from many Texans who have had this experience. There are simply far more eligible Texans who want vaccine doses right now than there are doses available. It will be months until the vaccine is broadly available to everyone. Until then, it’s best to keep checking with providers, wait until you are eligible if you are not yet and continue to wear a mask when you’re out in public and practice social distancing.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes. Although some Texans have expressed hesitancy toward the vaccine, health experts and public officials widely agree that the vaccine is safe. Pfizer and Moderna reported their vaccines are 95% and 94% effective, respectively, at protecting people from serious illness, and while no vaccine is without side effects, clinical trials for both Pfizer and Moderna show serious reactions are rare.
Do I need to get the vaccine if I already had the virus?
The short answer is yes. Health experts still don’t know how long natural immunity lasts after someone gets COVID-19, but evidence suggests it does not last very long.
More vaccine info
FEMA will bring its own supplies of the vaccine, Christensen said. FEMA’s supply is separate from the state’s weekly allotment from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this week was about 400,000 doses.
More than 2.5 million Texans have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses. Nearly 850,000 have gotten both doses, according to state health officials.
Some 39,000 Texans have died from the virus, which has infected more than 2 million in the state.
The sites are being set up in several states and will have “an explicit focus” on expanding the vaccination rate “in an efficient, effective and equitable manner” and making sure that high-risk communities are not left behind, the FEMA statement said.
“Our state and local partners have made an extraordinary effort in the vaccine rollout, these sites are another opportunity to work together and assist in the vaccine administration,” said Tony Robinson, FEMA's Region 6 administrator. “We are making progress, but the job isn’t complete until everyone who wants a vaccine receives a vaccine.”
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