EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Mass vaccination sites are putting shots to arms every day in-between 15-minute intervals in a race to get El Pasoans protected against COVID-19.
City officials say 1,300 residents are getting their shot at mass vaccination sites on average and the number is poised to stay the same for now. There is hope the number of people vaccinated a day will rise, but that depends on logistics and how many vaccines are being sent to the region by the federal and state government.
Nearly 100,000 El Pasoans have pre-registered for the vaccine, ready to take humanity’s swing at a virus that has rocked the globe. The city has largely received the Moderna vaccine. The city’s large vaccination site near the airport is taking appointments between 7:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.
Residents have experienced hours-long waits at the site this week. Officials say some of the reason is due to packed cars with residents who are not scheduled for an appointment.
Despite the lines, city leaders say they are eager for a larger supply of vaccines to be administered to the region.
“We would much rather be in a position where we have the challenge of having all the vaccines than being in a situation we are in now, where we just have a dribble coming into us,” Tracey Jerome, a deputy city manager, said.
During a press conference on Tuesday, city officials advised residents to only go to the site if they have an appointment. Checking whether or not individuals are on lists adds time to the process, according to the city.
The city is vaccinating residents with chronic medical issues and is largely operating on an honorary system by not asking for medical documentation.
Angela Mora, director of the El Paso Health Department, said that will change if the city finds residents are abusing the honorary system.
Jerome said there are 220 suppliers in the El Paso area looking to provide the public with vaccines. Though the city does not have control over them, there is an effort to coordinate so vaccines are quickly administered to the public, she added.
Administrators from the city communicate with partners in the county, University Medical Center, Texas Tech and the University of Texas at El Paso.
Fire chief Mario D’Agostino said there is communication between the groups to compare rollout strategies. Their cooperation provides for better practices when the region begins seeing larger quantities of vaccines, he added.
D’Agostino mentioned 609 staff working in the fire department have been vaccinated and 662 from the police department.
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