Primary Support for High-risk Groups
Williamson County has begun providing COVID vaccines to all those who wish to have it. Working diligently with state and private sector partners, County Judge Bill Gravell is committed to acquiring adequate doses of the vaccine to deliver to our most vulnerable populations as quickly as possible.
Judge Gravell requested 30,000 doses and received 6,000 to start. On the first day of a vaccine hub in Sun City, Family Emergency Room personnel gave 2,530 doses, which will justify to the State of Texas that Williamson County is registering quickly and waiting for vaccines, which will move them to send more.
The walk-in site, at the Sun City ballroom, will be in operation as the vaccines are made available. “It’s not just for Sun City; anyone residing in Texas is eligible,” the Judge says. “The process takes about 20-30 minutes, and is faster if you register online beforehand.”
Judge Gravell says, “We have pushed hard for these doses because Williamson County has the largest number of veterans in Texas, and the 6th largest in the nation. Many of those are 65 years or older, and it is incumbent upon us to care for seniors and those who have served our nation.”
Last month, the County reported all of Group 1A; local hospitals and healthcare systems, EMS personnel, and 2,020 seniors in 14 long-term care facilities or nursing homes received the vaccine.
Group 1B includes all individuals 16 years and older with at least one chronic health concern; e.g., cancer, heart disease, sickle-cell, COPD, diabetes, obesity, and others. The County estimates there are 120,000 residents who qualify for Group 1B, and the Judge expects distribution to take about three months.
He added, “From the beginning I have stated our seniors are our most valuable population, and they are the group of people who have suffered the greatest loss of life in our county and country. That is why we are using every resource available to protect them.”
Medical personnel are eager to deliver shots and get the data entered, real-time, into the state database. Judge Gravell says, “We make requests and we have to put shots in arms. Bottom line, I can not get more unless I can prove that we need it. Fortunately, we have a waiting list and we will notify people when the opportunity is available.” Recipients also make the appointment for their second dose before leaving the ballroom. One gentleman received his confirmation email as he was walking out the door.
The Judge says, as availability expands, there will be more than 100 locations county-wide, and the plan also includes a mobile vaccination van to address homebound elderly and rural populations.
Most Texas counties, including Williamson County are using the Moderna vaccine. “The assembly line is moving along,” Judge Gravell says. “It will take some time to take care of our seniors first, and there is not currently an unlimited supply. It is important to note, also, that getting the vaccine is entirely voluntary, but we will ensure everyone in Williamson County who wants it will be able to get it.”