EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso hospitals are expected to receive nearly 7,000 Covid-19 vaccines during the first distribution later this month, according to a Texas Department of State Health Services list released on Friday.
Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week said an initial vaccine shipment would likely arrive in Texas during the week of Dec. 14, with a second shipment expected in January.
State health leaders on Friday said the first allocation of more than 224,00 doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer will be shipped to 109 hospitals in 34 counties.
Here is the breakdown for El Paso County...
- University Medical Center will get more than 2,900 doses.
- The Hospitals of Providence East Campus will receive 975, along with that same number of doses for the Memorial Campus.
- Del Sol and Las Palmas medical centers will each get 975 doses too.
Texas health officials said Friday that nursing home residents and health care workers will be at the front of the line for access to the first round of vaccine doses.
Meantime, a newly-completed City of El Paso survey shows high interest in the vaccine among El Pasoans. Of the more than 4,000 surveyed, 86% said they would be interested in getting the vaccine.
While some individuals may be more hesitant, a local infectious disease expert sought to dispel common vaccine concerns, such as the fear the vaccine was developed too quickly.
“Most of the (vaccine) studies require a step approach for the information to come back, analyze it and make a decision whether the vaccine is going to be good for continuation studies,” said Dr. Armando Meza, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. “What they decided to do, these pharmaceutical companies, is to do the Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 almost at the same time.”
Dr. Meza also credits the rapid development of the genetic profile of the virus for helping speed up the process.
He also said the public should be less concerned about possible long-term negative side effects. Rather, he said the focus should be on how long the benefits could last.
“There's been a lot of studies that show that when you provide a vaccine, any significant side effect is going to occur within the first two months,” he said. “That is why the FDA has demanded, requested all these pharmaceutical companies to provide them with at least two-month data. So the two-month data is out there.”
El Department of Public Health Director Angela Mora also said the city has purchased five buildings with federal CARES Act funding to be utilized for Covid-19 response, four of which will involve clinics for testing and vaccine distribution. The fifth building will be a response center for epidemiologists, the local virus task force, and contact tracers.
Texas this week surpassed 9,000 hospitalized Covid-19 patients for the first time since summer. Texas reported more than 13,000 confirmed cases on Friday and 255 additional deaths. The virus is blamed for more than 22,200 deaths in Texas, which is the second-highest number of fatalities in the country.
Below is the document outlining hospital vaccine distribution plans across the state. (The Associated Press contributed background to this report.)