Texas has distributed more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday, as the state ramps up mass vaccination efforts while hospitals grapple with record numbers of patients.
The nation's second-most populous state with nearly 30 million people has increased shot efforts in recent days by shifting doses to mass distribution centers that can handle thousands per day. State health records show 1,021,511 doses given with 132,396 people fully vaccinated.
“This is the biggest vaccination effort we have ever undertaken, and it would not be possible without the dedication and tireless efforts of our healthcare workers," said Abbott, a Republican who has said he will not order new lockdowns even amid rising numbers of new cases and hospitalizations.
However, the vaccination efforts still have disparities between the county. According to state records, Walker County has received 900 doses of the vaccine and has distributed 610 to residents over the age of 65 or with underlying health conditions. Meanwhile, Nacogdoches — a city with nearly 10,000 less people — has received 2,800 vaccines and distributed 2,530 doses. The city of Palestine has received 2,400 doses and administered 1,330 doses, while Lufkin has received 4,000 vaccines and issued 3,880,
“Walker County is diligently working to bring COVID-19 vaccines to our community, with a Mass Community Vaccination Plan currently being developed to be submitted to the state,” said Sherri Pegoda, the deputy emergency management coordinator for Walker County. “The state is in charge of allocating vaccines, not the county and we have very little input, but will be ready if and when they push out large quantities to rural areas.”
State officials say that general population distribution will be available in the coming months.
“We still have a long road ahead of us, but Texans continue to prove that we are up to this challenge,” Abbott said.
The governor has said the supply of vaccines remains limited, but urged the federal government to ship more doses more quickly. Doses are being given to front-line health care workers, residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, people who are over 65 or who have a chronic medical condition that puts them at greater risk of serious illness or death.
Walker County reported 324 new cases over the past week, and have averaged 42.3 new cases per day since the start of the new year. According to the Walker County Office of Emergency Management, 1,945 cases are active, of which 89% are from members of the local communities. Only 211 cases are active within the local Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities.
According to state health officials, Texas had nearly 14,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals and the state's death toll has passed 31,000, with 400 new fatalities reported Friday. The state has reported more than 1,200 deaths in the last three days.
The county also remains as a “high hospitalization” zone under orders from Abbott, which invoked capacity rollbacks and closed bars. COVID-19 patients currently account for 19.7% of hospital beds in the Houston metropolitan trauma service area, which includes Walker County. The area must have seven consecutive days below 15% to cancel the rollbacks.
Free COVID-19 testing is currently available at kiosks located at 125 Medical Park Ln. and 455 Hwy. 75 N., by appointment only. To make an appointment visit www.curative.com.