A COVID vaccination clinic held Tuesday at the Polk County Commerce Center allowed 200 Polk County residents to get at least the first of two doses, but left thousands wondering how or when they would have a chance to roll up their sleeve.
County Judge Sydney Murphy said the vaccine distribution process, like other elements of the COVID pandemic, has been extremely frustrating. The limited supply of this new vaccine and the patchwork supply system have impacted the entire nation.
Staff at the Polk County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been encouraging residents to register for a waiting list through a web portal established by Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy — the only local pharmacy to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of becoming a vaccine provider. OEM employees also registered many residents who were not comfortable using the web portal themselves.
Brookshire Brothers ultimately had to shut down the site because of the small amount of vaccine they were receiving.
Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock said Tuesday that nearly 1,000 people joined Brookshire Brothers list, and they will be contact when vaccine is available. The pharmacy hopes to reopen the list when supplies become more predictable.
Murphy praised Brookshire Bros. for investing their resources into the massive project as healthcare partners in the region work to reboot vaccine delivery.
“I have to commend them for working to get the vaccine administered,” Murphy said.
Murphy and many other officials have stated publicly that achieving a steady supply of vaccine to administer is still weeks away.
The Texas Department of State Health Services maintains a list of vaccine providers here, and area residents who are able to visit a vaccination hub or healthcare provider outside the county are encouraged to do so. The closest adjacent HUBs are in Harris, Montgomery and Walker counties.
CHI St. Luke’s Hospital System is not offering walk-in vaccinations at any of its facilities yet, but patients who are either age 65 or older or have a chronic medical condition can complete an online questionnaire to express their interest in getting the COVID-19 vaccination at one of the CHI facilities in the Houston region when available.
Judge Murphy also added that any information on how to register for future vaccine clinics will be shared through AlertMe Polk County, the county’s emergency communication system.
If you have not yet registered for this important tool, register at https://alertmepolkcounty.bbcportal.com/. Residents can as many landline or mobile telephone numbers they wish. If you need assistance, or do not have internet access, call the Emergency Management office at 936-327-6826 and they will get you set up.
Once you are on the AlertMe Polk County list, OEM staff can contact you with urgent information about any type of emergency whether it is whether, a natural gas leak or zombie attack.
As of Wednesday, Jan 27, 1,726 Polk County residents have received the vaccine.
COVID BY THE NUMBERS
Confirmed cases: 1,256
30 patients are currently hospitalized in Polk County. Of those, two confirmed COVID patients are in ICU, another eight COVID patients are receiving general care. The Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council lists 53 operational general beds in Polk County with surge capacity of up to 64. Available staff and supplies may further limit that capacity.
SETRAC lists ICU capacity for the county at eight beds. As of Jan. 27, seven of those beds were occupied. The ICU census has been at seven or eight for 48 days since Dec. 1, 2020.