Today is Dr. Umair Shah's last day as Harris Co. health authority

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Dr. Umair Shah has played a key role in Harris County the past few months in the fight against COVID-19, and his efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

"It's very bittersweet to leave this fantastic community behind and all these partners," Dr. Shah told ABC13 during Thursday night's COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall.

He's taking a new job as the next health secretary in Washington state after leading Harris County's health department since 2013.

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The Harris Co. Public Health Authority is heading to Washington state to serve as secretary of health, but first, he has a warning for Houstonians.

County commissioners have launched an expedited nationwide search to replace Shah. For the time being, Deputy Director Gwen Sims will fill in.

During Thursday's town hall, Dr. Shah had a lot to say about the vaccine.

"When your time is called, get the vaccine because it's safe, it's effective, and certainly we want to do everything we can so we have that light at the end of the tunnel," Dr. Shah advised.

"I believe I'm behind a great team. So really, everybody is in good hands. I just want to make sure everybody remembers that as well," he said.

Dr. Shah is taking no time to get started in Washington state. His first day is Monday.

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