Memorial Hermann hopes with countywide effort to vaccinate 50,000 people a day

Thursday, January 21, 2021
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As the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine outpasses supply, the state has designated certain hubs in the country. Memorial Hermann is one of the hubs and is hoping to at some point vaccinate 50,000 people a day.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Getting a city the size of Houston vaccinated is a huge undertaking but large vaccine events are a good start.

For example, over four days Memorial Hermann vaccinated 14,000 people at NRG and would like to hold more events like that, but one of the biggest issues has been supply. They don't necessarily know how many doses they will get or if they'll get a lot of doses. Something that will help with that is being designated as one of the county's vaccine hubs.

SEE ALSO: County-by-county breakdown on COVID-19 vaccine distributions

"So this is exciting for us in that we can now turn on these things that we've piloted. We've demonstrated what we can do, but now we can make them consistent, ongoing since we have a greater degree of confidence we'll have a steady supply of vaccine coming through," said Dr. James McCarthy, executive vice president and chief physicians executive at Memorial Hermann.

As a hub, Memorial Hermann is also reaching out to ensure the underserved and uninsured get vaccinated.

"We are vaccinating at some of our neighborhood health clinics, which do specifically target low-income areas and specifically target uninsured Houstonians," said McCarthy.

They're also working on communication efforts to reach those communities.

"The ways to reach out to them are not just with email distribution, so we're exploring text-based solutions that we could use," said McCarthy. "Those are not ready and deployable yet but we're hoping to have those in the near future."

Plus, Memorial Hermann is already looking ahead. In order to vaccinate 70 percent of the population, which would help Houston reach herd immunity, McCarthy says 50,000 people would need to be vaccinated a day. We're not there yet, but he said when we have the supply, Houston could pull that off.

"With public-private partnerships, with all the health systems pulling their weight, with the city of Houston, Harris County, all of our pharmacies, distribution to many of the clinics that are able to start taking vaccine - yeah, 50,000 is doable," McCarthy said. "I think that is reasonable within our existing infrastructure."

McCarthy estimates it could be achieved by late September or October. Meanwhile, in Galveston County, they announced a plan to start a drive-thru vaccination site at Walter Hall Park in League City on Saturday with the help of UTMB.

"When we look at the rates of infection in Galveston County, believe it or not, League City is one of the hardest hit, that's where we're seeing the highest rates. So this is a very good place to have a vaccine hub," said Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Local Health Authority.

In the meantime, health officials are asking for your patience as they work to get more COVID-19 vaccines in people's arms.

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