Vaccine line already forming

UTHealth RGV began administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the UTRGV Brownsville Campus on Wed, Dec 29th. This phase included age 65+ and people with comorbitities. UTRGV Photo by David Pike

By GARY LONG
Staff Writer

As of Thursday morning more than 20,000 people had already signed up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley and the line was getting longer.

On Wednesday The UTRGV School of Medicine and its care team, UT Health RGV, distributed all 900 doses of the Moderna vaccine it received Monday from the Texas Department of State Health Services. UT Health RGV distributed 400 doses in Mercedes, 250 in Harlingen and 250 in Brownsville, and was awaiting shipment of more vaccine from DSHS.

In the meantime the agency was encouraging people who are eligible to receive the vaccine to register by completing an online form found on the UT Health RGV COVID-19 webpage.

The registration form reserves a person’s place in line and allows the UT Health RGV to schedule an appointment for them to receive the vaccine. Patrick Gonzalez, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley associate vice president and spokesman, urged people to be patient.

“We’re in the first distribution phase right now. As of last night 20,000 had registered and more were coming in all the time,” Gonzalez said Thursday morning

A completed registration form generates this notification to the registrant:

“UT Health RGV is partnering with the State of Texas and the CDC to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccines. Please be aware that both the amount of vaccine doses and also the sites at which they are delivered are determined by state and federal health officials. UT Health RGV is committed to vaccinating eligible members of the Rio Grande Valley at all of our approved sites as dosages are received there.

“As UT Health RGV continues to receive vaccines over the next few weeks and months, we will follow up with individuals who have registered to schedule vaccine appointments. Your patience is appreciated during these early stages of the nationwide vaccination process when doses are limited.

“In the meantime, please adhere to the social-distancing protocols developed by the CDC to mitigate your exposure to COVID-19. For more information, updates and resources on the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit uthealthrgv.org/coronavirus.”

Gonzalez said UT Health RGV is at the mercy of state and federal agencies as to when it receives future vaccine shipments. The agency was notified Sunday that Monday’s 900-dose shipment was coming the following day.

Texas and UT Health RGV are in Phase 1a Eligible Now of the state’s vaccination roll out, which includes physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physician’s assistants, health care facility support staff, laboratory technicians, pharmacist, other patient-facing clinical staff, long-term care facility staff, EMS 9-1-1 care and transport, home health care and hospice workers, residents of long-term care facilities, front-line vaccination and testing staff, last responders, funeral home workers, medical examiners and school nurses.

Phase 1b Eligible Now includes everyone over 65 and anyone over 16 with at least one of 10 qualifying medical condition such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, morbid obesity and pregnancy.

Everyone else comes later.

“As the process continues, pharmacies and health care providers including your own personal physician will be provided with vaccine doses to distribute,” Gonzalez said.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com