About a week ago, a dear friend of mine in the healthcare/hospital administrator field reached out to me to let me know that although it’s far from a secret, information regarding accessibility to the COVID vaccine can be hard to find or hard to translate when you aren’t “in the business”. He agreed to draft up a few quick thoughts as a guide for each of us to navigate these crazy new pandemic-life waters:
Written by Jonathan Leer, Hospital Administrator at UT Southwestern Medical Center:
When I became a healthcare/hospital administrator I could have never predicted nor imagined a time in which the entire world stops and looks to the wonderful people I get to serve everyday. My job by and large is to be a “stage manager” for the hospital and clinics that I serve. If everything goes well with your visit or stay, you likely will never see me, and that is a good thing – it means that everything is working the way it needs to each day.
Administrators are the people in the back rooms that make sure the stock rooms are full of supplies, doctors and nurses come to work and have everything to do their job and serve you, the patient, and that the “trains run on time”.
That is what normally happens.
It’s an interesting and cool job most days and although it does have its stressful times, nothing could have prepared me for SARS-CoV-2 (the official name of the virus that casues COVID-19).We have passed milestones in grim numbers and cases over the past few months, but then on December 11, 2020 we got a glimmer of hope when the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a new vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech to battle the virus. A week later, we would have another EUA from Moderna to add to the arsenal.
Since then I’ve been fielding the same question over and over again, and that is simply “HOW DO I GET THE VACCINE!!!”.It’s now the end of January 2021, and there have been about 6-7 weeks from the EUA’s. I asked my friend Michelle (or better known to you as Fort Worth Woman) the opportunity to share some public health information with my community that I love, to step outside of the stage manager role and give you some information that honestly has been hard to find if you aren’t “in the business”. Now I’m not saying this information is secret, far from it, but as information can be skewed through the multiple filters of the information platforms of the 21st century, I wanted to give you some basic information that will hopefully help you find a place to get vaccinated, if you want to.
That is up to you, but hopefully if you have been searching for this information, maybe this will help you.In addition, I asked FWW to allow me to share some bullets. So here it goes, I’ve included links to all this information so you have the sources (ie I didn’t make this up!).
- The SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for the disease COVID-19 that have been approved are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both of these utilize mRNA technology to battle the virus. They do not contain live virus like other vaccines (ie flu, TDAP, etc.). The best video I’ve seen so far with some animation (I’m a visual learner) is a 60 Minutes video:https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1408334846168582
- The State of Texas is the only distributor of the COVID-19 vaccine, your doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, or local grocery store cannot order any dosages directly from the pharmaceutical companies. Because of this, the distribution is monitored to impact the most Texans with the vaccines received each week by Moderna and Pfizer to the central State of Texas team distributing vaccines across the state
- On January 11, 2021, the State of Texas announced the establishment of “hubs” around the state where the majority of vaccines will be deployed to impact the greatest number of Texans. The goal of each hub is to vaccinate over 100,000 Texans per hub
- At this time (01/31/2021), only those who meet 1A and 1B criteria are eligible for vaccination
- Detailed definitions of 1A are here: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine/EVAP-Phase1A.pdf
- Detailed definitions of 1B are here: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine/EVAP-Phase1B.pdf
- Can pregnant women get the vaccine?!: Yes they can!! Nervous? I understand, Insert this clip from the experts: https://utswmed.org/medblog/covid-vaccine-pregnancy-breastfeeding/
- Only those in 1A and 1B are being prioritized for vaccination at this point per the State of Texas Department of Health and Human Services, your doctor/pharmacy is required to follow these regulations
- In Tarrant County, there are currently (as of 01/31/2020) three (3) vaccination hubs assigned:
- Arlington Fire Department
- Texas Health Resources (Downtown FW location)
- Tarrant County Public Health Department.
- In an effort to simplify sign-ups for those that want to receive the vaccine, all Tarrant County Hubs have a centralized registration portal: www.tarrantcounty.com/COVIDshot or for those that don’t have internet access 817-248-6299 (Option 7)
- Once placed on the registration list, you will receive an email and text message with confirmation of you being placed on the waiting list and you will be called/emailed/texted when you are up on the list
- There are other hubs around the DFW area and you are not required to only register in the county in which you live, these hubs are established to serve all Texans and were placed in areas where they could do the most good
- There are hubs in Dallas County, Parker County, Denton County, and Collin County. Registration requirements are not centralized for all hubs like the Tarrant County hubs. If you want to sign up for multiple lists, details are located here:https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine-hubs.aspx
- The State of Texas Department of Health and Human Services is updated by the federal government everyday with allotment numbers, shipment logs, and lots being released. Supplies are still limited, please be patient as frontline healthcare workers are still needing to be vaccinated with the supply given to the state each day.
- The only approved vaccines at this writing (01/31/2021) are by Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require 2 doses of the vaccine for the best efficacy. You will get the 2nd shot at the same place you received the first shot. Timelines differ between shots 1 and 2 depending on which vaccine you recieve. You will receive more information during your 1st shot appointment.
An additional treasure trove of informational videos can be found here: https://utswmed.org/whattoknow/