North Texas Daily

Denton County contributes to mass COVID-19 immunization at Texas Motor Speedway

Denton County contributes to mass COVID-19 immunization at Texas Motor Speedway

Denton County contributes to mass COVID-19 immunization at Texas Motor Speedway
February 04
14:08 2021

Officials from Denton County Public Health took part in Tuesday’s mass vaccination at the vaccine hub set up at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as part of the first phase of COVID-19 immunization.

It was also the first mass-vaccination event in Denton County, with officials aiming to administer at least 10,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine via the Speedway hub, a goal that was already halfway reached by 12:20 p.m.

“We’ve distributed over 5,000, so we’re well on pace,” said Matt Richardson, the director of Denton County Public Health.

The hub was staffed not only by health officials, firemen and police, but also hundreds of local volunteers, with Emergency Management Officer II Brenda Gormley at Denton County Emergency Services estimating around 400 or so people from nearby communities and civilian outfits.

“Our volunteers are everybody,” Gormley said.  “From Medical Reserve Corps, Community Emergency Response Team[…] We have city workers, we have county workers, we have Cornerstone. We have UNT Emergency Management. Some are monitoring check-ins, medical relief, doing IT and other things.”

Gormley also estimated between 80 and 100 workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were there to monitor volunteers and ensure the process went smoothly.

“They’re from all over the United States and are here to help out with the vaccination clinics within North and Central Texas,” Gormley said. ” They’ll be here for the next three days. Basically, their job is to shadow any of our workers to see how it’s being done so they can take information back.”

The hub itself consisted of 16 lanes for the vaccine recipients which ran through four tents where the patients were checked in, verified and then administered the inoculator. They were directed to wait in a nearby parking lot in front of the tents for 10 to 30 minutes as an incubation period to check for any immediate negative health reactions to the dose.

The first phase is currently broken into two parts – Phase 1A and Phase 1B. 1A covers direct healthcare workers under two tiers and those living in long-term care facilities. Phase 1B is broader, covering not only all residents 65 and up, but those 16 and over with chronic health conditions making them especially vulnerable to long-term damage from COVID-19. Per Denton County’s Vaccination Q&A, some of these ailments are:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic Kidney disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Heart conditions, which can include heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • Solid-organ transplantation
  • Obesity and severe obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

With various hubs having been put up for comparably smaller amounts of inoculations, allocation and planning to get the Speedway vaccine hub running ran through the past weekend, DCPH Public Information Officer Jennifer Rainey said.

“We learned about it the Friday of the week before, so it takes a couple of days over the weekend to plan,” Rainey said. “Then we send out the invitations on Sundays or Mondays for the next week’s clinic. We don’t send out invitations, though, until we have the vaccine insight, because we don’t want to invite 3,000 or 10,000 individuals only to have to cancel because the vaccines didn’t show up. So we wait until we have the vaccine and make sure it’s not broken, too hot or anything like that.”

For this week, Denton County received 31,500 COVID-19 vaccines, with 12,000 of them being Moderna and 19,500 being Pfizer.

While there are concerns over the safety of the vaccines regarding allergies or other medical complications, Rainey said their medical team makes sure to thoroughly probe individuals with questions sent from the CDC.

“We ask them if they’re pregnant or if they’ve recently had COVID-19 or antibody treatment, ” Rainey said. “If they’ve had antibody treatment within the last 90 days, they shouldn’t be vaccinated yet. If they’re pregnant or have had blood thinning, they would just need to discuss it with their medical provider, though we do keep medical providers on staff and on-site to discuss with their doctors in case they may have problems with the vaccine.”

On the topic of vaccination for staff in local colleges, such as the University of North Texas or Texas Women’s University, Richardson said no plan was currently in place.

“It’s hard to know,” Richardson said. “I think different students and staff will be eligible in different phases, so we’ll work in conjunction with the university to help them meet those needs for each phase they’ll have.”

While the university has contributed to plans for the vaccine via the RE-PLAN software, Richardson said there have not been any further plans for collaborating or further inoculation at the moment, though talks are continuing.

“We’ve had some discussions,” Richardson said. “If we needed extra storage, UNT has graciously offered freezer or refrigerator space if we got more doses than we could store locally. North Texas has been very generous in loaning us space in our testing events, so it’s possible if we expand this further we might convert them to vaccination events.”

Featured Image: A Medical Reserve Corps volunteer talks to a passenger waiting in line to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2, 2021. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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