COVID-19 vaccinations in Mercedes, Brownsville for specific groups

Dr. Linda Nelson, a Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP), RN, pediatric nurse practitioner and senior director of Clinical Operations for the UTRGV School of Medicine and UT Health RGV; unpacks the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 at the UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center in Mercedes, Texas. UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

BY MATT WILSON
STAFF WRITER

HARLINGEN – COVID-10 vaccinations using the new Moderna vaccine are underway at UTRGV inoculation sites in Mercedes and Harlingen.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley received a shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at the UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center in Mercedes and the UTRGV Clinical Education building in Harlingen early this week and began vaccinating qualified individuals.

According to a release from the university, the vaccines will be administered to the three groups of individuals prioritized by state health officials to receive the vaccine.

These groups include:

>> Front-line employees who have heightened exposure to the virus or must remain healthy to support others as cases surge;

>> Individuals over 65;

>> Individuals under 65 at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 because of certain comorbidities.

Those comorbidities include diabetes, chronic kidney disease, immunocompromised diseases, chronic lung diseases, sickle cell disease, chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic neurological diseases, morbid obesity and pregnancy.

Vaccines will be administered by appointment only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:

>> Wednesday at the UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center in Mercedes and the Interdisciplinary Academic Building in Brownsville;

>> Thursday at the UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center in Mercedes and Clinical Education Building in Harlingen

UT Health RGV received a total of 900 Moderna doses, of which 500 will go to Harlingen and also be administered in Brownsville, and 400 will go to Mercedes.

“When it is your time, and you are prioritized to receive the vaccine, you should do so,” Dr. John H. Krouse, UTRGV executive vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, wrote in the release. “We really know that the vaccine is the way that all of us are going to be able to get back to a more normal life. And then, hopefully next year when we are getting to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we will be able to be with our families in a way that we really can’t quite be this year.”

To receive a vaccine, qualified individuals should register by completing an online form, where individuals with any of the comorbidities listed above will be asked to self-disclose their condition in order to secure an appointment.

UT Health RGV will not be distributing vaccines on a first-come, first-serve, walk-in basis, the release explains, an effort to avoid long lines and wait times that could increase people’s exposure to the virus.

As of Monday morning, over 4,000 individuals had already registered with UT Health RGV, the release said.

Although the university has already administered 1,950 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to its healthcare providers, support staff and non-UTRGV healthcare workers, Krouse wrote.

The dean also said caution is still necessary, including steps like mask wearing, hand washing and maintaining social distance from others.

More information on the vaccine is available at the COVID-19 vaccine webpage, while the latest on the university’s protocols regarding the pandemic are available at its Commitment to Safety and Success page.