Brazos Center vaccine hub set to push out 7,000 doses this week

A call center for the vaccine hub will go active Monday at 10 a.m.
Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 11:05 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - After nearly two weeks since administering their last shots, the Brazos Center vaccine hub is set to reopen Monday morning after the historic winter storms forced all of last week’s appointments to be rescheduled.

The hub was set to administer another 3,000 first doses of the vaccine before the storms forced Brazos County COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force Chief Jim Stewart to shut it down last week. He now says his goal is to get both this week’s and last week’s allotment of doses into arms by the time operations end for the week Thursday evening.

“What we have on hand right now are 3,000 doses, and we’ve been allocated another 4,000 doses for this week,” Stewart said. “There’s going to be a full-court press at the vaccination hub this week to push those 7,000 doses.”

Despite the fact the hub hasn’t administered a shot since February 9, Stewart says he doesn’t intend on the loss of momentum to prevent them from making up the ground they lost the previous week.

“We are geared up,” Stewart said. “We’re going to run 10-hour days. We’re starting at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning and running through 6 o’clock tomorrow evening, and we’ll do that four days in a row the way it’s currently planned. That’s going to be 40 hours of pushing out vaccinations.”

Stewart says the biggest challenge in front of them right now is to get everyone who has an appointment to check their emails. Because the hub had to reschedule so many of them, they’re still waiting for many people to confirm their new appointment. Those emails include a confirmation link.

“Because people have been without electricity, the internet, and water, they’ve not been paying attention to their emails,” Stewart said.

Stewart says he’s not happy about losing last week, but looking at the big picture in the long term, he doesn’t think it will have a significant impact. He says the hub can regain the momentum it lost by administering all 7,000 doses they have on hand over the next four days.

“It’s been 13 days,” Stewart said. “Plus, the time in between, we had this winter storm that knocked out electricity, water, sewer, and the grocery stores. Where that momentum and enthusiasm was toward receiving a vaccine, that might have dissipated a bit because people have to get their lives back to normal. Maybe receiving a vaccine wasn’t at the top of their list like it was two weeks ago, but we’ll get that momentum back.”

The hub’s first round of second-dose vaccinations was also set to begin Monday. However, Stewart says all those appointments are also being rescheduled for the following week.

“We don’t have those doses yet,” Stewart said. “Those doses are not scheduled to be delivered until March 1, and so the second doses will start next week.”

Stewart and his team are currently working on the logistics of how first and second-dose vaccine recipients will be handled. He says St. Joseph Health would prefer not to intermix people coming to the hub for their initial dose and final doses.

“Are we going to have a drive-thru at the Brazos Center for the second dose? Do you go inside for your first dose? Do we go to the expo?” Stewart said. “These are all things we’re debating right now so we can figure out that plan.”

Another big development is that a call center for the hub will go active Monday at 10 a.m. Stewart says this will give people another way to register for an appointment. To get in touch with the call center, dial 211 and an operator will pass the call to the center after vetting the caller to ensure he or she is eligible for a vaccine.

“The community has been reaching out to me about folks who don’t have internet access, don’t have email addresses, or don’t speak English,” Stewart said. “We created this call center to get them into the system.”

Stewart says the purpose of the call center will only be for registration. It will not serve as a resource for people to call in with general questions about the hub, vaccines, or other types of related inquiries.

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