All adults in Texas will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday. But for people in the Lubbock area, health officials are already giving residents that chance.
Almost four months into its operation, the City of Lubbock Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination hub at the civic center isn’t as busy as it used to be. On Wednesday, the clinic gave 1,669 shots. That’s a 33 percent decrease compared to the first Wednesday of March.
“I know that that may sound like a lot to some of you, but that clinic has the ability to vaccinate over 2,800 people per day,” Katherine Wells said this week.
Wells is the director of Lubbock’s health department. She said o shots have gone to waste, but supply has surpassed demand at the mass vaccination site.
“Now is the time to get vaccinated,” she said. “There’s no jumping in line anymore and there’s no need to wait.”
The city is now immunizing any adult who wants a shot. A few other mid-size Texas cities are doing this, too. Starting Monday, when vaccine eligibility opens up to the general public, every of-age Texan will have that chance.
It’s a move Wells said she and Lubbock leaders advocated for.
“I think we hit a bit of a saturation point of those people that were very eager to get their vaccine,” she said. “I think some people know that it’s important but have other things to do. Now we’re encouraging people not to wait.”
Lubbock may be ready to vaccinate more people, but accessing a shot may still be a challenge across Texas. In bigger cities, some people are struggling to book an appointment.
Dr. Jennifer Shuford is chief state epidemiologist and a member of Texas’ COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. She told The Texas Standard that the state expects to get more vaccine doses in the next month.
“Probably about a million first doses per week,” Shuford said. “And this will allow us to just continue that pace of vaccination that we’ve seen across our state.”
For comparison, Texas was given more than 900,000 first doses this week, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Another 230,000 doses are in the state thanks to a partnership between the federal government and select pharmacies and health centers.
More than 9.4 million doses have been given so far in Texas. That includes over 125,000 doses in Lubbock.
In about a month, Wells said the Lubbock Health Department will wind down its vaccination hub and focus on targeted outreach. They will work with community organizations, churches and other groups to get shots in arms.
“The goal of the hub site was always to get as many people vaccinated as possible and I know we have done that,” Wells said.
She expects pharmacies and doctor’s offices to get more vaccine doses around that time.
“We have enough people vaccinated in the community that they won’t be overrun,” Wells said.
As word spread that anyone can get vaccinated, lines were long at the civic center Thursday. Which is exactly what city leaders hoped for.
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