Abilene becomes ‘hub’ for COVID-19 vaccinations, sign up to receive your dose

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TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District has been approved as a COVID-19 vaccination hub.

According to Health Director Annette Lerma, Governor Abbott plans to funnel the majority of the vaccines available in Texas through the 77 hubs in the state.

Abilene is currently in phase 1B of COVID distribution, which means if you are over the age of 65 or if you are over the age of 16 with a preexisting-health condition, you can sign up to get your vaccine. 

Lerma added that there are several guidelines that must be followed in order to be recognized as a vaccination hub. For example, a hub can not restrict access to the vaccine based on the patient’s county of residence.

For now, the Health District will be receiving 1200 doses weekly. That is until production expands and/or the vaccine becomes FDA approved. The vaccines will be administered by appointment only.

This week, the Health District will be administering the vaccines in the Round Building at the Taylor County Expo Center, however, starting next week, the vaccination hub will be moving to the Convention Center.

The vaccination hub will be hosting “vaccination events” once or twice a week. Currently, there are 20 vaccinators available who can receive patients every fifteen minutes.

Annette Lerma says the Health District continues to advocate for an increased number of doses. However, the State says they’re waiting for new CDC guidelines (coming from the new Biden administration).

“We may not see an increase in vaccine doses for the next few weeks,” said Health Director Annette Lerma.

The Health District is asking the public not to call and ask how long until they are scheduled to receive their vaccine. “If you have signed up well eventually get to you. It’ll just take a little bit,” said Lerma.

“…As of this morning, 12,000 names are on the list. At a rate of 1,200 vaccines per week, it will take us 10 weeks to get everyone on that list,” Lerma explains.

Additionally, Lerma advised the public to check with their own primary doctors and pharmacies they usually go to since the State will be sending them small amounts of the vaccine. Clarifying that, “getting on their [Health District’s list] waitlist doesn’t get you on a list anywhere else.

Lerma also announced the partnership with Hendrick Health. If they get additional doses, they’ll transfer them to the Health District.

Lerma added that wherever the patient gets the first vaccine, that is where they will need to get the second dose.

The Health District also announced they will be implementing an automated software called “Innoculate” by Luminare. The new software is supposed to speed up the process leading to the vaccination hub, letting users register and fill out paperwork online.

Lerma emphasized that if a patient signed up on a waiting list, they need to make sure they answer calls from unknown numbers or phone calls with no ID.

“…There is a setting for phones to not ring if it’s a random number,” Lerma says as she asks the community to remove that setting in case they signed up for the vaccine waiting list, adding that the Health District will not leave a message, as they need to move on with the list.

“…If you miss your call, your name won’t be removed and staff will try again later. Though you may miss [that] round completely.”

Transportation to the vaccine hub

Transportation Services Director Don Green said CityLink is offering free rides from homes and businesses to the vaccine site. This will only be available to people within the people in the city limits.

To schedule a ride to the vaccination hub people will need to call CityLink at 325-676-6287 and select ‘option 2’ to talk to the operator and schedule that ride. He added that after the patient receives the vaccine, they will need to wait 15 to 20 minutes.

“…The van will stay until the person waits the time frame for the vaccination,” said Don Green. “It will be continuous, if the van leaves, call CityLink again and the van will return.

Lerma added that the vaccines from the Health District are free and insurance is not needed to sign up.

For more information on how to sign up for the vaccine visit abilenetx.gov/covid19.

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