As of Thursday, Parker County had 2,014 in phases 1A and 1B who had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 83 who have now been fully vaccinated.
“Currently, medical personnel, first responders, people over the age of 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease are being vaccinated,” Parker County Health Authority Dr. Steven Welch said. “Specifically, as directed by Texas DSHS, we are vaccinating [Phase] 1A and 1B groups at this time.”
According to the dashboard on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, in Palo Pinto County, 228 people had been given the first dose of the vaccine with two people fully vaccinated as of Thursday.
In the state, 527,553 people in the group had been vaccinated with at least one dose with 13,979 fully vaccinated.
Phase 1A includes hospitals and EMS, medical offices, and assisted living and nursing home facilities.
Vaccinations have also been opened up for the 1B group — those that are 65 or older and those with chronic medical conditions, ages 16 and up — depending on the availability of the vaccine. Chronic medical conditions listed on the DSHS website include cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; solid organ transplant; obesity and severe obesity, body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
“All providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19,” according to a statement from DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt. “No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”
Welch said the full benefit of the vaccine is seen about two weeks after the second shot.
“The two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are given 21 days apart and the two doses of the Moderna vaccine are given 28 days apart. So, depending on the vaccine received, it takes five or six weeks from the first dose to see the full benefit,” he said.
Following the first dose of the vaccine, people can still be infected, as shown by U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, who recently tested positive for the virus this week after receiving her first injection in December.
Palo Pinto County Health Officer Dr. Ed Evans said after someone gets their first dose, they will be scheduled for their second dose of the same vaccine.
“Mixing the vaccine [is] not approved,” Evans said.
Locations added to Week 4 of the vaccine distribution include Brookshires Pharmacy in Springtown, 100 doses; Best Value Hometown Pharmacy in Weatherford, 100 doses; and Weatherford Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC, 100 doses. In Palo Pinto County, the Department of State Health Services Mineral Wells was placed on Week 4 for 100 doses.
“Parker County, like every county in Texas, is waiting on doses to come from the state. There are at least 17 vaccine providers signed up in Parker County but only a few have received doses,” Welch said. “Unfortunately, the providers have no control over when they will receive doses from the state. The providers that have received vaccine doses are giving it to the appropriate populations right now. There is no specific timeline — it is all dependent on supply of vaccines.”
DSHS and the Texas Hospital Association are asking residents to do research, be patient and check their eligibility, and do not just show up at a hospital or clinic looking for the vaccine, as availability is still limited at this time.
“We’re in this together, and we’re asking folks to be mindful of an organized approach,” Texas Hospital Association President/CEO Ted Shaw said in a press release. “Health care workers are moving as fast as possible to get shots in arms.”
Welch added that the Parker County Hospital District has been taking names of people in the 1A and 1B groups and will be calling them once vaccine doses are available.
“Currently, that list is well over 500. While people can certainly call, we have no way of knowing when we will be able to start vaccinating those on the list due to the limited supply and lack of routine shipments of vaccine doses,” he said. “Also, please note there are not currently any lists for those who do not fall into the 1A or 1B groups.”
The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel is considering what criteria could be used for later stages of the vaccine distribution at this time. Dependent on vaccine production, the spring of 2021 is the best estimate of when the vaccine may be available to the general public at this time.
The vaccine is administered at no charge, regardless of insurance status, according to DSHS.
Welch said Parker County residents can look on the hospital district’s website at pchdtx.org or call 817-341-2520 for more information.
“I expect that all locations have given at least a portion of their vaccine but I do not have specifics,” Welch said. “I can tell you that PCHD already has appointments to give out all of our doses by the end of this week. PCHD is also working with Medical City Weatherford to use the remainder of their vaccine allocation. Those appointments are being made now — from the list of people we already have — and we expect those doses will be also given by the end of the week.”
Those that qualify for the vaccine can find a list of providers on the Texas Department of State Health Services website at dshs.texas.gov. Those that qualify can also contact their healthcare provider or any location listed as a provider to inquire about the vaccine.
“All providers are listed on the DSHS website. When and how much vaccine will arrive is determined in Austin,” Evans said. “Local health [department] offices and providers have their own availability plan so they should be contacted for information. Patience of patients is important. Vaccination of 300 million people is a Herculean task, to say the least.”
As of Wednesday morning, the only listed provider in Palo Pinto County is the hospital, but Evans stated that the health department office in Mineral Wells should soon get a vaccine supply and to check with local health providers as 2,000 doses were ordered on Jan. 3.
For more information and to contact the Palo Pinto County Coronavirus Hotline, visit ppgh.com.
THINGS TO KNOW
• Clinical studies show that both vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 in the range of 90% to 95%, but it is unknown if the vaccines reduce the risk of a person having a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19.
• All vaccinated individuals will need to continue safe practices — wearing masks, washing hands, limiting interactions and socially distancing. As more data becomes available and as more people are vaccinated, recommendations may change.
• It is currently unknown how long the vaccine will protect against moderate to severe COVID-19 infections.
• The Moderna vaccine comes in a multi-dose vial with 10 doses and the Pfizer vaccine comes in a multi-dose vial with five doses. Unlike other vaccines, both of these require all doses be given within six hours. Any left will be destroyed. People are being scheduled in groups so that every dose can be used.
• Following vaccination, a person will be required to wait 15 minutes before leaving the site. People with a history of anaphylactic reactions to other medications, insects, foods, will be required to wait 30 minutes before leaving.