As they say: Everything’s bigger in Texas.
Denton County is preparing for what’s said to be the largest vaccination drive-thru clinics in the state, and even in the country.
It opens Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway, only for those with an appointment.
Crews spent Monday setting up tents and electronic signs to prepare for the crowd. An estimated 400 medical, fire and volunteer staff members will be on hand to help get people in and out, in just 30 minutes.
"It’s been amazing. I’m astonished that we have 16 rows of wall-to-wall cars," said Sharon Kohl of Denton who was among the first to arrive on Tuesday.
"Very impressive. Very impressive," said another woman, eager to get her first dose of the vaccine.
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“We’ve seen so many struggles with these mass vaccination sites, but we’re used to doing things on a very big scale,” said TMS President Eddie Gossage.
Gossage said his speedway property was chosen for its massive footprint, situated off I-35W at Texas 114.
Last summer, TMS hosted more than 30 graduation ceremonies for seniors across North Texas.
A large shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has been provided by the state.
The vials are now in the county and ready to be distributed, said Denton County Judge Andy Eads.
The county will work to inoculate 30,000 people at TMS, 1,000 vaccinations every hour.
The goal is to apply 10,000 vaccinations a day.
There are 16 drive-thru lanes that have been established in the parking lot located at 2401 Petty Place on the speedway property.
“We have it set up to where folks can get, 32 people at a time can be getting their vaccination,” said Gossage.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available for those needing a first or second dose.
Any Texas resident can register for the vaccine with Denton County. The vaccine is not designated for only county residents. However, organizers of this mega vaccination site stress that only those with appointments will be allowed in.
“There will be absolutely no walk-ups accepted,” said Gossage. “All you’re going to do here is get in the way of folks that are going to get their vaccination.”
Richard Harrington, 75, of Lewisville, is eager for him and his 72-year-old wife to receive their vaccines.
They have an appointment at TMS on Tuesday afternoon and scoped out the location a day earlier.
“I told her I’ll just drive out there by the location and pin it down, so we don’t get lost coming out tomorrow night,” said Harrington.
He said he received a text message alert on Sunday indicating his appointment date and time.
“We’ve been looking forward to it probably since around Christmas,” he said. “Looking forward to hear from someone and Denton County did a good job.”
Denton County’s current waitlist for the COVID-19 vaccine has about 140,000 people on it.
Anyone who registered is urged to check for an email, text message or phone call from the county about your appointment time and date.
Restroom facilities will be available for those waiting at Texas Motor Speedway, according to officials.
There is also a desperate need for more volunteers in the days and weeks ahead, according to Eads.
A medical background is not required. Volunteers are helping direct traffic and greeting people arriving for their appointment.
NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.
Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows where COVID-19 vaccines have been sent around the state. Click on a marker to find out information about each location. Use the "plus" and "minus" signs below to zoom in and out of the map.
From the Texas DSHS: Availability of COVID-19 vaccines lilsted on this map are based on shipping information and reporting to the DSHS directly by facilities. Please contact providers in advance to confirm vaccination location and hours, that they have vaccine on hand and that you are eligible for vaccination at that site. Not all providers are vaccinating the public or people in all priority groups. Vaccine is available at no charge, regardless of insurance status.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
In Texas, the COVID-19 vaccines are currently available to anyone over the age of 5. The vaccines are still not approved for children younger than 5 however -- those trials are ongoing.
Once vaccinated, people who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot, but full protection may not happen until a couple of weeks after the second shot. For those who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- there is only one shot needed.
As of Jan. 3, 2022, it is also recommended those who are age 12 and up and who have been fully vaccinated receive a booster as early as five months after their last dose, for a total of three shots. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only U.S. option for children of any age.
As for even younger children, kid-size doses for 5- to 11-year-olds rolled out in November and experts said healthy youngsters should be protected after their second dose for a while. But the FDA also said on Jan. 3, 2022, that if children that young have severely weakened immune systems, they will be allowed a third dose 28 days after their second. That’s the same third-dose timing already recommended for immune-compromised teens and adults.
Pfizer and Moderna are studying their vaccines, in even smaller doses, for children younger than 5.
Even when fully vaccinated, it's still possible to become infected by the virus since none of the vaccines offer 100% protection from infection. With that in mind, even if you've been vaccinated it's still a good idea to wear a mask and keep some separation between strangers or those whose vaccination status is unclear.
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