A new COVID-19 vaccination site has opened at the University of Texas at Arlington as part of a continued effort to expand vaccine access in Tarrant County.
The site, located at UTA’s Physical Education Building at 801 W. Greek Row Dr., was opened through a partnership between UTA, Tarrant County and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
Three other vaccine sites have already opened at Brighter Outlook Inc. in Fort Worth, Ridgmar Mall and the Saginaw Recreation Center.
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Tarrant County Commissioner Devan Allen of Precinct 2 said the site in Arlington was selected in a targeted approach to expand access.
“The area where UT Arlington [is] and the surrounding areas including east Arlington — specifically zip codes 76010, 76914, and 76018— all have higher incidents of COVID-19 positivity,” Allen said. “This is obviously when we were doing a lot more testing but additionally, we have seen they have lower numbers of vaccine registration therefore, a lower number of vaccine recipients.”
The vaccine site opened with a soft launch Wednesday and is expected to transition to full volume on Thursday and Friday with an estimated 630 vaccines per day. For the next two weeks, this site will maintain that capacity while delivering first doses between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to the HSC. Staff will then shift to delivering second doses for three weeks.
“This perhaps will be kind of the last mass vaccine sites that we stand up in the county unless the demand for the vaccine were to increase,” Allen said.
In a briefing this week before county commissioners, Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said vaccination rates nationwide are improving, but he noted there has been a stark decline in interest and demand for first doses.
“I have read so many articles and testimonials from public health officials. There’s a sharp two week decline in interest,” Taneja said. “I can tell you at our sites, we would open to long lines … 350, 400 people in the first hour at each site to now doing 400 people a day at our sites. So, there’s a sharp decline in first dose interest.”
In Tarrant County, 1,199,789 vaccine doses have been administered as of Wednesday. According to county data, about 28% of residents have received one dose while 21% are fully vaccinated. Taneja stressed the importance of talking to the public about hesitancy and making access more convenient.
“This would be the time when the cases are low. Come out in droves and get vaccinated,” he said. “Things can be seasonal. Viruses like colder weather and as fall comes around, we could have another surge. This would be the time to get all the people vaccinated, not when there is a huge surge happening because then the vaccination sites themselves have risks of a lot of people coming and potentially spreading it to each other.”
At the UTA site, student Brian Nyaberi was among the first to get vaccinated on the launch day. Nyaberi said he wanted to get the vaccine earlier than Wednesday but without a car, he’s been waiting.
“It was kind of tough to get around to get places. I live close to campus, so knowing it was close to campus made it really easy for me to just getting it,” he said. “I just wanted to do my part and get rid of this virus. I know it’s hit home for a lot of people including some close family, friends.”
The site will be closed on Memorial Day.