Thousands of doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived at Tarrant County Public Health, public health director Vinny Taneja confirmed Wednesday.
Taneja said the 4,200 doses will be distributed amongst their clinics in the county, with 100 doses available Wednesday at the center on Randol Mill Road in Arlington. The clinic primarily vaccinated those including first responders and health care workers.
“I got to tell you, I’m excited and relieved at the same time. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present,” Taneja told NBC 5 Wednesday. “I know it’s a lot of work for my folks, but we’re all excited. The faster we can get this thing in people’s arms and get people immunized, feeling better about not getting COVID-19, I think the better we are.”
From a disease outbreak standpoint, Taneja said Tarrant County’s COVID-19 cases are still surging and not slowing down. The county reported 1,702 new cases on Wednesday. Twenty-three percent of the county’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to the county dashboard.
The vaccine, he said, is a way to mitigate but he is reminding people it remains in limited supply.
In Celina, the family-owned store Celina Drug received 500 doses Wednesday. Owner and pharmacist Jai Ellis said one of those who were vaccinated was 96-year-old Johnny Rothfus, a World War II veteran and retired Dallas firefighter who now helps at the store.
“He was absolutely overjoyed. He is a very active man and when all of this hit, he completely feared for his life,” Ellis said. “So, this will return him to some sense of normalcy. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
The store, which has been in the community since 1922, has six employees. Ellis said they will have to adjust staffing in order to help with the vaccinations. On Wednesday, workers from surrounding clinics were sent to Ellis’ store to receive the vaccine.
“We’re going to have to adjust our staff a little bit, have multiple people in here that aren’t here at the same time just to help,” she said. “I’ve pretty much devoted myself all day just doing the vaccinations so that really removes from my regular pharmacy duties.”
Entering the holiday week, Taneja is urging the public to remain vigilant and not let their guards down despite a vaccine now available in limited supply.
“Finally, we have tools to fight COVID-19,” he said. “I know we’re missing our families and so forth, but we know how to fight this off.”
In observance of the holidays, the next update from Tarrant County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard will be on Dec. 27.