As Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson walked through the city’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic Monday afternoon, she told members of the media this clinic, giving members of the Phase 1B community the opportunity to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, was “history in the making.”
Nearly 300 days after the first individual contracted COVID-19 in the Texas Panhandle, thousands of members of the Amarillo community have had, and are having, the opportunity to receive the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine free of charge from the city’s walk-in clinic at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex.
Individuals representing various city departments, including the library system, the fire department and the public health department, led individuals in both the Phase 1A and Phase 1B group through the complex, giving more than 7,000 doses of the vaccine since the clinic opened Dec. 28, 2020. The second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be available to individuals starting 28 days after they receive the initial dose.
According to previous reports from the Amarillo Globe-News, the immunization process opened to those in the Phase 1B group last Wednesday, including community members 65 years of age and older as well as people 18 years of age and older who have at least one chronic medical condition which puts them at increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Phase 1A consists of front-line healthcare workers, staff as well as residents of long-term care facilities. The Texas Department of State Health Services deemed who are included in each phase.
Monday’s COVID-19 report card, released every weekday by the city of Amarillo’s public health department.
This comes as the city’s public health department reported an increase of 205 COVID-19 cases in Potter and Randall counties from Friday, bringing the area’s total to 29,392 cases since the pandemic began in March. Out of the total, 3,344 cases are currently active, a decrease of 43 net active cases from Friday. There have been 25,544 recoveries and 504 deaths related to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
After members of the Phase 1A and 1B group arrive at the Civic Center to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, they are led to a holding area where they sit and fill out paperwork. After that is filed, individuals can either choose to receive the vaccine in the public holding room or in one of 30 private rooms. After receiving the vaccine, individuals are asked to sit for 15 minutes to make sure they do not have any possible severe reaction.
“Those individuals … had reactions to vaccines in the past,” she said. “We monitored them for a little bit longer.”
For every first dose of the vaccine given through the clinic, Nelson said representatives from the public health department have to report to the state through the IMMTrac System within 24 hours. This system will make sure the area gets the appropriate number of the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which can be given to a patient 28 days after they receive the first dose.
Stoughton said the city followed the model of other immunization clinics the city has hosted in the past, including flu shot clinics for city staff, as well as when H1N1 vaccines were distributed.
Nelson said every hour the COVID-19 immunization clinic has been open, it has gotten more efficient. More than 2,000 people went through the clinic last Wednesday and Thursday, prior to the clinic being closed for the New Year’s Day holiday.
With the number of doses given out so far, Nelson said the city is getting close to the end of the vaccine supply allocated by the state to the city’s public health department, as of Monday afternoon.
Nelson stressed that state officials determine the amount of vaccines disseminated throughout the state based on how much they are given from the federal government.
“We don’t know how many we are going to get week over week,” Nelson said. “Oftentimes, we have very short notice, I think because the state has very short notice on how (much) vaccine is coming to them and where it’s going inside the state.”
On the Amarillo Alerts website, which the city has used since the beginning of the pandemic to give citizens access to COVID-19-related information, it states the vaccine availability for both priority groups. As of Monday afternoon, the vaccine was available for both Phase 1A and 1B populations in the community.
“As soon as we run out of vaccine, we will change that sign and it will say we don’t have (the) vaccine and (encourage citizens to) keep watching (the website),” Nelson said. “That way a citizen, before they even get in their car and come down to the Civic Center, can check the supply.”
Nelson said she is proud of the city’s staff, representing various departments, coming together to provide this clinic for members of the community.
“Staff just created this on the go. The clinic is open and they are seeing the need,” Nelson said. “We got it open fast, where other cities across the state are struggling to get their clinic open …Thousands of people are coming to get their vaccine. I’m very very proud of the Amarillo staff and the vision of the leadership that we have, with Casie Stoughton and all of our public health team.”
Stoughton said the fact that city officials pulled this walk-in vaccination clinic off showcases the quality of individuals who live in Amarillo.
“Amarillo is the best place to live and work, and I think this is just another reason that highlights that,” she said. “We work so well, both interdepartmentally, but also across departments. I think this highlights that success … It’s truly a collaborative effort across all city departments … We could not ask for a better community to live in.”
Members of the Amarillo community wait to be led to a private room to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s walk-in vaccination clinic at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Monday afternoon.
The clinic schedule for the rest of the week for those in the Phase 1A and 1B groups is as follows, if the city has vaccine supply still available:
– Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to a news release, individuals who are allergic to a component of the vaccine, who have had any vaccine in the past 14 days or have had a monoclonal infusion the past 90 days are ineligible to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information about the city’s response to the ongoing pandemic, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as supply status, visit www.amarilloalerts.com.
The next COVID-19 report card will be released by the city’s public health department Tuesday afternoon. For the most current number of COVID-19 cases outside of Potter and Randall counties, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.