Approximately 2,000 area residents received their first COVID-19 vaccine at the Brazos Center community vaccine hub Monday, the hub’s first day of inoculations in more than a week due to last week’s winter storm and a low dose allotment earlier in the month.
Vaccine Task Force Chief Jim Stewart said hub organizers intend to administer 7,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine this week; he said 1,100 second-dose appointments that were rescheduled because of the storm are now set for early March. The hub will operate through Thursday evening this week.
Tradd Mills, the Brazos Center site commander and College Station’s emergency management coordinator, said 57 members of the Texas National Guard were on hand Monday to train in how to operate a vaccination site. State officials have said the Texas National Guard will set up inoculation sites across Texas in the spring and summer as weekly vaccine allotments increase.
“Today has gone exceptionally well,” Mills said Monday afternoon. “Although the arctic blast did kind of distract us from COVID-19, it does still exist and we do need to stay diligent in staying safe in that aspect. We are still going to pursue putting vaccines in everyone’s arms, so everyone should keep an eye out for that email. We’re going to reach out to you and get the vaccine to you.”
One process change, according to Stewart, is that people are no longer being scheduled for their second-dose appointments right after getting their first shot. He said the unpredictability of dose allotments necessitated the shift, and that state health officials have assured him that residents will be able to get second doses in the 28-to-42-day window.
Stewart said he observed a higher percentage of people of color at the vaccine hub on Monday than earlier in the month. In recent weeks, several community leaders and advocates pushed the county’s vaccine task force to increase the number of area residents of color getting vaccination appointments.
Among those getting their first vaccine dose Monday afternoon was Texas A&M police officer Yolanda Hickman and her mother, Barbara Hickman. The elder Hickman said she was initially nervous to get the vaccine but described the experience as “wonderful,” and added that anyone on the fence about getting vaccinated should “look at the bigger picture” and think of it as helping keep fellow community members safe.
“I’m encouraging people to do it,” Barbara Hickman said.
“In my line of work being a police officer, I have to take into consideration that I’m out trying to serve my community — and the only way I can protect the community is to protect myself and take the vaccine shot,” said Yolanda Hickman.
Hickman and her mother are Black, and she cited the disproportionately high number of Black Americans who have died due to the virus as a reason to get inoculated despite initial hesitation.
“The more research we do on it ourselves and the more we talk to people in medical fields, the better you’ll feel about taking the vaccine,” she said. “In order for us as a community and as a society to survive, we’ve got to take the necessary precautions in terms of getting the vaccine and wearing our masks.”
Stewart said he anticipates that the Brazos Center site will become a drive-thru site sometime later in the year. Additionally, he said, the task force is continuing to work on improving its registration processes.
The 211 Texas phone hotline designed to help area residents get on the St. Joseph Health vaccine list went live Monday, though statewide technical issues meant many could not connect, Stewart said. He anticipated the issue would be resolved by today.