First COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Shelby County

Distribution is bases on CDC, state priorities; first vaccines expected for general public by late January

The first COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Shelby County with one of the first administered on Monday morning to Dr. Dixon Golden at HOPE Clinic.

Golden, a Center optometrist, is one of the health care providers for HOPE Community Medicine who serves clients of the non-profit organization. Golden said in his line of work, dealing with patients in close proximity, he wanted to get the protection the vaccine provides.

Mike Belgard, PA-C, and chief executive officer of Hope Community Medicine, said the first COVID-19 vaccines arriving in the county will be provided on a priority “tiered system” following federal and state guidelines with first responders and front line health care workers in the top tier.

“We have to go by the tier system from the state and CDC, today we have first responders and that kind of thing coming in,” Belgard said. On Tuesday the clinic will be heading to Lakeside Village to administer the vaccines to staff and residents who want it.

“We got 100 doses and they're are supposed to send us more as we use them,” Belgard said.

HOPE is administering the vaccines on an appointment basis only to ensure the proper protocol is followed for the Moderna vaccines, which includes taking them out of freezer storage, getting them refrigerated for no longer than five days and then leaving the vaccines at room temperature no longer than five hours prior to them being administered, Belgard said.

“They're all be done with no out of pocket charge,” he said. For those receiving the vaccines who have health insurance, their insurance will be billed but there is no co-pay or deductible on the recipient's part, Belgard said.

“Our goal is to ultimately make sure that everybody who wants the vaccine gets it,” he said. Belgard estimates it may be about the third week of January before the vaccine is available to the general population in Shelby County.

“People need to realize getting the vaccine does not give you instant immunity,” he said. With the Moderna vaccine two immunizations are required. The second one must be administered between 28 and 30 days after the first, he said.

“People need to get both to have full immunity,” Belgard said. He has heard other Shelby County clinic and pharmacy providers will also have the COVID-19 vaccines available, but he was not sure of the details.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the first shots of the coronavirus vaccines go to people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as well as doctors, nurses and frontline healthcare workers.

“We are swiftly distributing these vaccines to health care workers across the state and will continue top ensure that Texans on the front lines have access to these live-saving immunizations,” Abbott said.

By the end of the month, Abbott expected more than a million vaccines will have been distributed to a variety of providers in Texas.

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