As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, places of worship are stepping up to serve as vaccination sites.
Outside Westside Baptist Church in Lewisville, large, bold letters were placed to advertise Pfizer vaccinations with no appointment necessary. Church deacon Lou Mabin said registration was available on-site.
He said the site had just under 1,000 vaccine doses available.
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“We’re not restricting anyone that needs that vaccine, providing they fill out the consent form and the liability form,” Mabin said. “This morning when I arrived at 6:45, we had cars on our parking lot waiting to get vaccinated and registered.”
One of the doses went to Pedro Salas of Lewisville, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter. Salas said there was never any hesitancy to get vaccinated, but he had been waiting for his turn through the county’s vaccine waiting list.
“The faster I do it, the faster it’s over with. The faster I feel better about it,” he said. “I have some friends that don’t want to take it. I have some friends that do. I suggest that if we want to get to where we want to be, then everybody get a vaccine.”
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, more than 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will be shipped to providers in the state next week. To date, Texas has administered more than 16.8 million doses of vaccine and 47% of all eligible Texans have gotten at least one COVID-19 shot, while 31% are fully vaccinated.
According to Texas DSHS, many of the large vaccine providers have reduced their vaccine requests as shots become more widely available at smaller, more convenient locations around the state such as pharmacies and doctors’ offices.
Westside Baptist Church has not been the only site to offer vaccines through a walk-up clinic. On Friday, the Hurst Conference Center also offered up 1,000 doses without the need for registration.
Hurst Fire Marshal Matt Easter serves as a site manager at the Hurst Conference Center, which now gets additional support from Arlington’s Community Vaccination Center. After operating seven days a week for eight weeks, the Arlington site closed on Monday due to lower demand.
“We have gone from city- and county-supported, we’re still a county site... but we are now state-supported through the DoD,” Easter said. “I think at this point, we have a gotten a lot of the population. If they wanted vaccinations, they got it but of course, it’s available here.”
As for the Westside Baptist Church, Deborah McElroy with the church’s healthcare ministry said it was pleased with Saturday’s turnout.
“I think people are starting to get more comfortable with the vaccine. There really is a need for it,” McElroy said. “I think as more family and friends get the vaccine, then others are encouraged. When they see that they don’t have any adverse reactions, that encourages them more.”
Saturday was the first time the church served as a COVID-19 vaccination site, though McElroy said they were familiar with vaccine operations because they offer flu vaccinations annually.