Denton County is starting February with a bang, rolling out several of the largest vaccination clinics in the country.
With the help of many area cities, volunteers, county staff, CoServ and Texas Motor Speedway, we were able to vaccinate an estimated 10,000 people per day in three drive-through clinics in one week.
This massive undertaking required a lot of staff planning and coordination and the kind of space only available at the Texas Motor Speedway, which also served as the site for many area high school graduations last summer.
The Denton County Commissioners Court asked the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to consider allowing our Denton County Public Health (DCPH) to be a major vaccination hub. Within days, DCPH was one of 28 across the state of Texas.
We ramped up from 1,100 vaccinations to 3,500, then 6,000 and finished January with 9,950 doses. Our efforts to turn around vaccine doses provided to us by the state paid off. Late in the last week of January, we learned the state would send us 12,000 doses of Moderna and 20,475 doses of Pfizer.
Once we received word of the significant increase in vaccines allocated for Denton County, our teams immediately set to work in devising a 16-lane drive-through vaccination clinic that could administer 1,000 vaccines per hour.
It was ambitious, to say the least. Yet our philosophy from the start has been to get shots into arms as quickly as possible. Making this happen efficiently, quickly and safely drove us from the beginning.
By the fourth week of receiving vaccines, we rolled out our Vaccine Interest Portal to allow residents in tiers 1A and 1B, as allowed by DSHS, to sign up for a waitlist. A week later, we began sending text and email updates to residents to let them know where they stood in terms of receiving vaccines. We immediately began working on a new system to provide QR codes and appointment times to residents on a first-signed-up, first-to-receive-appointment system.
Each week, Denton County staff has worked days, nights and weekends to improve our system, taking lessons learned from early clinics and applying them to our processes for future clinics.
With just tier 1A and 1B individuals on our waitlist, we had more than 160,230 registered as of Jan. 31. Our goal continues to be providing vaccines to these individuals as quickly as we receive them, knowing that as the state broadens categories for additional residents to register, more of our 940,000-plus residents will be waiting for their COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As we look ahead, we know one thing is certain. We will need everyone’s help. If you can, please consider becoming a volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps, the organization that has been providing volunteers to help with traffic flow and other components of the clinics.
We have nurses, retired medical personnel and people all ages and backgrounds who are assisting us now. However, these vaccination clinics will continue for months to come. We will continue to need more volunteers. You can join the Medical Reserve Corps by signing up at www.dentoncounty.gov/758/Medical-Reserve-Corps. Each volunteer will receive an hour of online training and undergo a background check.
We are committed to continuing our progress in providing COVID-19 vaccinations. These vaccinations are truly the light at the end of what has been a long pandemic tunnel.
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If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected], and my office number is 940-349-2820. For more information, register for my newsletter at www.Dentoncounty.gov/countyjudgenewslettersignup