Edmondson: Vaccine clinics are smashing success

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Dianne Edmondson, Precinct 4 County Commissioner

By Dianne Edmondson, Denton County Commissioner Pct. 4

In case you haven’t heard, 3,500 people were vaccinated seamlessly last week as the Denton County Health Department launched its portal to register folks from tier groups 1A and 1B.

Additionally, two more drive-through clinics for another 6,000 people are being scheduled for this week, on Wednesday and Friday!

The initial rollout of the registration portal on Friday afternoon, January 8, was truly stunning since it was actually non-existent in Denton County just four days prior.

The County Health Department in partnership with the County’s Technology team worked endless hours, both day and night, to launch the portal and, wow, did our residents ever respond! By 5 p.m. on Sunday after the Friday portal opening, about 38,000 people had enrolled!

As a newly-designated state vaccine hub, the County’s weekly vaccine allotment was 500 on Tuesday and 3,000 on Thursday, and all 3,500 doses were administered without any major problems. Pretty amazing for less than a week’s duration!

We are expecting a larger number (about 6,000) vaccines this week and plan to have two drive-through clinics, one on Wednesday and one on Friday, at two different locations.

Those next on the registration list were expected to be notified beginning late Monday of location and appointment times, and the clinics again will be staffed and operated efficiently, moving thousands more through the process in their cars.

How our registration portal works

Upon registering through the COVID information portal, individuals receive an acknowledgement by text or email, and noting that they would be notified later if there was enough vaccine to serve them at the upcoming clinic. If there is enough vaccine, those individuals then are assigned an appointment time and location, so 6000 more registrants should be receiving appointments for this week. Because of the large numbers of people registering at the same time, family members who register consecutively may not receive adjoining appointment times. But all who register definitely will be vaccinated eventually.

Denton County Public Health clinics are different from others

A distinguishing feature of our clinics is that there will be no standing in long lines for those with appointments, as some neighboring county clinics have experienced. In fact, there is no standing in lines at all — the Denton County clinics are all drive-through so that everyone receiving a vaccine will remain in their cars during the check-in, vaccination and 15-minute after-shot observation period. This process is safer and more comfortable for both our attendees and staff! Rave reviews by those who have attended our drive-through clinics have been coming to each commissioner and the County Judge and we expect that to continue as more clinics are completed.

Denton County Health Department sites are and will be staffed in large part by the Health Department staff, but also by the fantastic Denton County Medical Reserve Corps. This is a group of retired medical personnel and other volunteers who are trained and available for emergency situations such as these mobile clinics. (Anyone interested in learning more about joining these crucial volunteers may check at MRC.DentonCounty.gov or call 972-434-7400.)

Transparency and effectiveness

Since our initial launch and massive communication efforts by the County, thousands more have registered, bringing our total (as of Monday, January 18) to more than 108,000. A Help Line also is in place M-F (940-349-2585) to answer questions or help with any registration difficulties.

We also have added a feature to the computer announcements which notifies registrants of their number in the queue. While being number 67,000 something may sound very daunting, as our numbers of vaccine doses continue to increase, we will make great dents in the large number.

Your Denton County Commissioners and Health Department are resolved to continue to request increasingly larger numbers of vaccines from the state and to continue timely implementation of our drive-through clinic plan so that eventually everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be.

If you have the opportunity to obtain a vaccination from another provider (physician office, pharmacy, etc.) take it, of course. However, please do notify us through the Help Line to remove your name from our queue so that others may be moved up. In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and follow the CDC guidelines of handwashing, mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding non-household large groups.

The vaccine manufacturers are in mass production gear, but the supply doesn’t yet meet the demand. However, it should catch up in the foreseeable future. Also, there are at least two other vaccines in the FDA trial process right now, so they may also be approved and in use for the public within a few weeks. Newspaper reports say that Texas A&M is working on developing a vaccine with a major bio-tech firm and, if successful, it will be widely available — even to Longhorns! So, truly there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Vaccine interest portal

Our portal remains open for new registrations for 1A and 1B individuals (healthcare workers, long term care center residents/staff, home healthcare providers) or people age 65 or older and people age 16 or older with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19). More details on the portal. Sign up for the vaccine queue here.

Call the Help Line here: 940-349-2585 to answer questions, determine where you are in line or remove your name from the queue if you have been vaccinated at some other provider.

Thank you for your patience with this process, your willingness to protect yourself and others by following CDC guidelines, and your caring for each other as we all go through the pandemic together. We will make it through together!

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