A new COVID-19 vaccination center opens Thursday in Erath County - with hopes it can get designated as one of the state's vaccine hubs.
The rural county, southwest of Fort Worth, has lost 46 residents to COVID-19 and has had 2,919 total cases since the pandemic started. So far, local providers have only gotten 600 doses of vaccine for the county's 42,000 residents.
"And that was quite difficult because the calls coming into our office were those wondering where they could go get a vaccine," said Erath County Judge Alphonso Campos.
The vaccinations ramp up starting Thursday in the county's new vaccination center now set up in a building once that housed a J.C. Penney store, then a furniture store. It's a joint operation between Erath County and the City of Stephenville.
The state sent the county 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday.
Vaccines are available starting today by appointment only for those in Phase 1A and 1B who've pre-registered. Walk-ups are not allowed. Paramedics with the Stephenville Fire Department will administer the shots.
"Most of those are already spoken for, so we're asking our residents to be patient with us. As we get more, we're gonna delve into the list of names," Campos said.
Up until today, Erath County residents had been driving to Tarrant County to get their shots. Back on January 8th, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley reached out to Campos offering to allow Erath County residents to "register on our website because we're gonna be a hub that receives a large allocation. So, a lot of our residents took advantage of that," Campos said. Almost 1,300 signed up to be vaccinated in Tarrant County.
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Campos hopes the state will designate Erath County as a vaccine hub and provide it with regular access to the shots.
"We're gonna have a vaccination center that's well-staffed, we believe, and we're gonna be ready to go and we'll tell the state, that we're ready to receive a good allocation of vaccine," Campos said.
Campos anticipates the 300 doses will all be gone by Friday, but he's already asked the state for 500 more for next week. If they arrive, the shots will again go to those already registered and by appointment only.
He's asking his residents to "be patient with us. This is a significant week. This is the week we get started. And we want to ask the state to provide us with consistent allocations so that we can continue because this is gonna be a long process," Campos said.