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Texas A&M Superfund Research Center partners with Castle Heights neighborhood to vaccinate residents

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 11:25 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Texas A&M Superfund Research Center partnered with the Castle Heights neighborhood Tuesday evening to bring the vaccine directly to their community.

With mass vaccination sites losing their effectiveness at this point in the pandemic, it’s smaller mobile clinics like the one set up at Castle Heights Park that will play a critical role in reaching herd immunity. More than 30% of Texans are fully vaccinated, but it’s nowhere enough to hit the needed threshold.

Tuesday’s clinic also gave people a chance to have their questions answered by a public health professional like Garett Sansom.

“We’re trying to achieve dual goals here,” Sansom, who is an epidemiologist at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, said. “We want to get good information out to the community, because if we can change one person’s mind or we can get the right information to them, maybe they’ll tell their friends, and so on and so forth. But again, it’s about equitable access to the vaccines.”

It’s that easier access that attracted most of the people who showed up to the park Tuesday.

“I live right here. All I had to do is walk,” Jourdain Franklin, a Bryan resident, said. “I was really scared of the needle, how big the needle was, but then I saw how little it was, oh that ain’t nothing. It’s just an ant bite.”

“I’ve been trying to get my boy since he turned 16 in to get his shot,” Wixon Valley resident Jason McMillin said. “Man, this is perfect, about two miles from my house. Perfect. Easy in, easy out.”

For others, bringing the vaccine directly to their community provided a greater sense of comfort to ease their concerns. Samson says most of the questions he’s been getting at these types of events are about how quickly the vaccine was developed. He says many of the people he talks to are uneasy about the vaccine being safe because of that fact.

“Well, I had some questions, just to be safe and secure,” Catrina Mitchell, another Bryan resident said right after rolling up her sleeve to get her shot.

“I want the kids to make sure they get their vaccines because we’re planning on taking a trip this summer,” Bryan resident Lea Davis said. She brought both her son and daughter to get vaccinated.

Sansom says with how quickly misinformation can travel this day in age, these more personal, small group vaccination events are crucial to convincing folks to get a shot.

“I would consider this a success even if just one person came out with some confusion and we can answer their questions. We’ve been certainly fortunate over the several events that we’ve done. Several hundred people have decided to go ahead and get vaccinated, and many more have gotten good information.”

The Superfund Research Center has now done six of these events locally. On Tuesday, they spent about an hour administering shots, and they were able to give 25 people their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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