Palo Pinto County Health Officer Dr. Ed Evans said Tuesday that while the hospital has been able to immunize hundreds per day, the county is still awaiting additional COVID-19 vaccine doses from the state.
“The federal government is pretty much in charge of this vaccine situation. They are buying and spreading this stuff to us from the manufacturers, it trickles down to the state governments and then it trickles down from the state governments to the providers,” Evans said in a Facebook Live Q&A with Palo Pinto General Hospital. “There are 30 million Texans that are presently trying to get the vaccine. It’s a herculean task to even imagine trying to inoculate that many people in a short period of time. It just realistically can’t be done.”
Besides PPGH, Evans said there is just one other vaccine provider in Palo Pinto County at this time, which is the health department office.
“The health department is doing the best they can. They’re penalized, if you will, by having two people working there — there’s a clerk and there’s a nurse. As such, they really realistically immunize about 100 people a week. In a county of 26,000, that’s not going to get the job done and there’s nothing that they personally can do about that,” he said. “The hospital has indicated and has shown the last few weeks that they can immunize between 200 and 400 people a day.”
Evans said that Palo Pinto General Hospital CEO Ross Korkmas requested 2,000 doses from the state; however, the shipment received was that of just 100 doses.
“We’ve been reaching out to the state, both Ross and myself, for weeks trying to get more doses to Palo Pinto County because we know that we can provide them to not only people who live here but people in surrounding counties,” Evans said.
County officials held a meeting via phone with Dr. Joel Massey, the regional health director out of Arlington, on Jan. 15 about the possibility of a mass immunization clinic in Palo Pinto County, Evans said.
The Parker County Hospital District was recently informed it was designated as a COVID-19 vaccine hub by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Beginning in January, Texas established large vaccination sites or hubs around the state. The goal of these hubs is to provide more people the vaccine and a simpler way to sign up for an appointment,” according to the Texas Department of State Health Services website. “Providers will focus on vaccinating areas and populations hardest hit by COVID-19.”
The Parker County Hospital District is currently on the state’s vaccine hub provider list and registration for the vaccine can be done on the website at pchdtx.org.
Evans said a mass immunization clinic is possible at some point in Palo Pinto County and that Massey would be working to facilitate getting more doses to the county, but there is no timeframe on that yet.
“So now we’re dealing with a situation where we’re getting vaccine doses that are allotted to us by the people in Austin but we have no control over it, so we just have to do the best we can with what we get,” Evans said.
As for registering to receive the vaccine, Palo Pinto County residents are asked to do so on the Palo Pinto General Hospital’s website at ppgh.com.
“There are four red buttons right across the top of our page and one of them says register for COVID vaccine. You click on that button and it will take you to the registration form. You fill out that form and you’re registered, that’s all you have to do,” PPGH Director of Marketing Megan Hudson said. “Once it’s your turn, someone will contact you and schedule your time to get your vaccine. Right now there’s only one list — the hospital doesn’t have a list, we’re working on the same list the state department of health is. We’re all sharing the list and working together.”
Hudson said if someone doesn’t have access to the internet or has any issues with the online form, they can 940-329-1584 to register as well.
Evans said anyone can go on and register to receive the vaccine; however, they would like for residents to view the groups of those currently eligible to be vaccinated on the Texas Department of State Health Services website.
“We would ask that you register when your group can have access to the vaccine,” he said. “We also ask when your register, don’t call frequently, all it does is slow down the process. There was one person who had registered 16 times to get their vaccine. I understand we would all like to be registered, but all that does is keep others from getting in. You will be called when it’s your time.”
Those who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine are groups 1A and 1B, which includes healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 and older and those 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition, including pregnancy. The full list can be found by visiting dshs.texas.gov.
As of Monday, Palo Pinto County had 634 people who had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 12 who had been fully vaccinated, according to Texas Health and Human Services. Parker County had 3,978 people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 334 who had been fully vaccinated.
The state as a whole has administered 1,307,663 vaccine doses and had 169,081 people fully vaccinated as of Monday.
Evans said after receiving the first dose, it’s advised that people go to the same location to get their second dose of the vaccine.
“What happens with the state is when they ship out 500 doses to Palo Pinto General let’s say, those first doses are administered, Palo Pinto General sends back the paperwork to the state, they correlate it at the state and when it’s time for the second dose to be administered, and they send out 500 more doses," he said. "Well, if 43 people have decided they got their first dose in Utah but they want to get their second dose here, that kind of handicaps the people who were standing in line here and got theirs here where they were supposed to. These second doses are intended for people who got their first dose here.”
Evans said it’s fine to get your first dose out of town but to plan on getting the second dose in the same location.
To watch Tuesday’s full Q&A video, visit the Palo Pinto General Hospital Facebook page.