COVID-19 Vaccine distribution

A Lubbock Fire Rescue member administers a COVID-19 vaccine at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. The City of Lubbock administered 1600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

Following a recent study by CovidActNow.org naming Lubbock County as the No. 3 vaccine distributer in the nation, City of Lubbock officials hosted a press conference.

Katherine Wells, Director of Health for the City of Lubbock, described reasons why Lubbock has had a more methodical vaccination process.

“Our community was very well prepared to start vaccinating individuals as soon as vaccines became available in Texas,” she said. “Our hospitals jumped on board very quickly and secured a lot of vaccines for their healthcare workers.”

The public health department was designated as a vaccine hub sight by the state of Texas, Wells said. This has allowed the department to receive a large amount of vaccines each week.

The largest vaccination center is the Lubbock Civic Center, Wells said. The Civic Center vaccinates 5,000 new individuals per week. Other community clinics were able to receive some vaccines and vaccinate their specific patients.

Wells clarified about how the vaccines were being held. The COVID-19 vaccine is a more difficult vaccine to maintain because it has to be held at a specific temperature, she said.

“The Health Department has multiple pharmacy grade refrigerators that were purchased about 10 years ago,” she said. “They allow us to store the vaccine, and we were actually able to move some of those units to the civic center so we can store vaccines there.”

The community response to actually receiving the vaccine has been good, Wells said. In Lubbock, the demand for the vaccine is higher than what is currently supplied. 

“We booked about 5,000 appointments this morning in less than two hours,” she said. “We had to turn a lot of people away after those appointments were booked.”

During a conference call on Wednesday Jan. 27, Mayor Dan Pope shared some statistics about who is eligible for the vaccine and who has received the vaccine.

“The state says there are 123,423 eligible Lubbock county residents in 1A and 1B vaccination groups,” Pope said. “Twenty-four percent of those residents have received their first dose, that’s good news. The vast majority of 1A has received their first dose.”

During the conference meeting, Pope said they are gradually vaccinating group 1B at 5,000 vaccines a week. 

“There are about 244,000 residents in Lubbock county over the age of 16,” Pope said. “12.3% of them have received their first dose. Progress is being made, it is not as fast as some of us would like but it is measurable and consistent, and I think we can plan on at least these 5,000 doses for the next couple of weeks.”

Pope, during the conference, said the Health Department is happy with the demand from the Lubbock residents. He reassured that the vaccine is productive and secure.

During a virtual conference meeting on Wednesday Jan. 27, Dr. Ron Cook emphasized why Lubbock has been doing such an efficient job when vaccinating the residents.

“The Mayor’s insistence from the state that we continue to be a hub is really good for our community and the surrounding communities,” he said. “Our efforts and Katherine’s efforts at the civic center to really push those 5,000 patients a week.”

Cook said that it has been a team effort from the entire community to help vaccinate as many people in the most efficient way possible.  

“It is a machine, people are in and out, typically within 30 minutes including a 15 minute waiting time,” he said.  “There are always some hiccups but for the most part it is a machine down there and they are doing an excellent job, that’s how we did it.”

Texas Tech students are in phase three with the exception of high risk conditions, Cook said. The university is making sure that they are in line to get the vaccine. 

Cook said it will probably be a couple of months before Lubbock is in phase three.

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