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More vaccines, new COVID variant in Nueces County

The average wait is about two hours for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Nueces County drive-through mega-clinic at the Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds, 1213 Terry Shamsie Blvd. in Robstown. Courtesy image

More vaccines are on the way to Nueces County’s mega-clinic on Tuesday, Jan. 19, which is especially needed since a new, more contagious variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus has been detected locally.

The county was notified during the first week of January that a resident had the B.1.1.7 variant. The more contagious strain was first detected in the United Kingdom and has since been found in eight states in the United States and more than 33 countries. Symptoms are not worse than the original virus, but the B.1.1.7 variant spreads faster, according to findings by health authorities. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales issuesd a letter to residents Jan. 15 announcing that more vaccines would be available to reopen the county’s mega-clinic Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds, 1213 Terry Shamsie Blvd. in Robstown. It will be the third large shipment of 4,000 or more doses since the first of the year.

To date, the county has delivered more than 9,000 doses of the vaccine at these mega-clinics for those in the state of Texas' Phase 1A and 1B eligibility groups. First responders and medical personnel are eligible under 1A. The 1B group is for anyone ages 65 and older as well as those 18 and older with a serious medical issue.

“Because of our proven ability to deliver, we got an increase in the amount of vaccine we were provided by the state of Texas,” Canales wrote in her letter. “Your ideas to make it better will help even more.”

Demand is tremendous, she continued, and supplies are limited, but the county will set up clinics and vaccinate on a first-come, first-served basis as quickly as possible. Vaccines are free, and you do not have to be a resident of Nueces County to receive the shots. The drive-through mega-clinics are open to anyone who drives up.

The county will soon begin delivering vaccines to homebound patients and setting up neighborhood clinics.

“We are prohibited from diverting vaccines sent for the mega-clinic by the distribution rules set up by the state of Texas, which established the regional large clinics,” Canales said. “I support and endorse this approach because vaccines are still scarce, and large clinics get the most eligible people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

As vaccine production increases, accessibility and convenience will increase as well, she said.

“I am proud of everyone who has made our first days a success and for the goodwill and understanding shown by everyone I’ve encountered,” Canales said. “South Texas Friendly, or as they say in my family, cariño (caring) is alive and well despite nearly a year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

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