WilCo develops vaccination plan

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By ANTHONY FLORES
Staff Writer

In an effort to be prepared for the eventual arrival of more COVID-19 vaccines, Williamson County Commissioners heard a presentation on a County coordinated COVID-19 vaccination plan which was submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services for approval. The DSHS receives and distributes vaccines to counties in the state.

“We’ve been working on trying to get the vaccine to Williamson County. It’s important, especially in the Georgetown area,” said Kathy Pierce, Executive Assistant to Pct. 4 Commissioner Cynthia Long. “If you look at census data, it has a lot higher rate of 65 or older. With that, we applied to the state. The state has decided to have mass vaccination hubs.”

In recent months, Williamson County has coordinated 45,488 COVID-19 tests, with results coming in 48 hours or less. Pierce used this and other successes the county has had over the COVID-19 pandemic to show the county can administer the vaccine if its plan is approved.

“Of the vaccines that the county has received so far, some to the Williamson Counties and Cities Health District and some to Family Emergency Room, there were 1,900 vaccine doses distributed to us, and all of those were in arms,” said Pierce.

“They’ve all been administered, and our first responders, the ones that chose to, have been vaccinated. We’ve been very successful, and so with that success, we ask that we’d like to branch out and have a plan to be successful in mass vaccination of our county.”

A part of the county’s plan includes working with Curative Medical Associates Inc. and Family Hospital Systems to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Williamson County already has a partnership with Family Hospital systems to distribute the vaccine to first responders. The vaccination plan would aim at those who fall into Phase 1b, people 65 and older or at higher risk. Williamson County has approximately 120,000 residents who qualify for the vaccine in Phase 1b.

“The Family Emergency Room has been very successful in our partnership with testing. Curative has also been successful with their testing site by the Georgetown Library,” said Pierce. “We are not limited, which is a good thing. Some people in the allocations were limited to Moderna and not able to receive the Pfizer vaccine because of the ultra-cold freezer that is required. Family Emergency Room prepared and purchased one. They have it in stock so they can handle the Pfizer vaccine safely. In Williamson County, we have it ready and available, so we aren’t limiting ourselves.”

The vaccination plan includes the set-up of five large-scale locations around the county. The county plans Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, North Austin, and Taylor. The plan also includes the use of a mobile vaccination van to reach rural areas.

“We have been proactive in creating a plan, and we are ready. We are working diligently to get the vaccine as soon as possible to our residents. However, we are relying on the State of Texas to provide us with the vaccine,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey. “Williamson County excels at working in partnerships and collaborating with others to bring needed services to our residents. With this plan, we think we have a great way to reach all areas of the county.”

Once the plan goes into action and the county receives its vaccines, residents can find more information and register for the vaccine at Wilco.org/coronavirus.

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