How Houston is preparing for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine

Friday, September 18, 2020
How will Houston handle COVID-19 vaccine distribution?
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When a vaccine is in place, this is how Houston will handle the distribution when the day comes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The rush is on to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The government has teamed up with private companies in an effort to get 300 million doses of a vaccine delivered by January.

Three producers are farther along in the process and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it could be ready soon.

"More likely by the end of the year," Fauci said.

Despite, the shortened timeline, some are ready to take the vaccine, while others are more skeptical.

The CEOs of pharmaceutical companies heard those concerns. Nine of them signed a pledge promising high standards of safety and efficacy through the phase three clinical trials. That's when humans are tested.

"Once there's a safe and effective vaccine out, I will get it," said Dr. David Persse, the health authority for the Houston Health Department.

Dr. Persse, says when a vaccine is ready, get informed.

"Do your own homework. Make the best decision," said Dr. Persse.

He says there's misinformation out there, and a virus as dangerous as this is nothing to mess around with.

"Unfortunately, tragically, regrettably, this has been politicized and, to the individual, you need to get past that, and you need to make the decision that's best for yourself and for your family," said Dr. Persse.

As the vaccine process moves along, there's already discussion about who will get it first.

Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine says leaders have already made a recommendation.

"Frontline healthcare workers and emergency responders are at the top of the list. Individuals that are at particular risk for dying from this disease are older Americans," said Dr. Hotez,

While that's the recommendation, it hasn't been determined who will get it first. Medical experts are hoping the government will weigh in.

While a vaccine may be ready by the end of the year, the director of the CDC says it could be the second or third quarter of next year before it's distributed to the public.

Whenever the vaccine arrives in Houston, there will be a plan in place.

"We've also been ramping up and preparing some local partners to be able to do mass vaccination clinics, obviously with a COVID lens, so probably something in the area of drive-thru clinics," said Decrecia Limbrick, assistant director at the Houston Health Department.

The hope is to vaccinate Houstonians by appointment.

"We know Houston gets hot. We want to try to make it as efficient and as effective as possible, but we also want to be mindful that sometimes people will just show up and we want to have processes in place for those individuals as well," said Limbrick.

So once the vaccine does arrive, Houston will be ready and Dr. Persse says you should be too.

"There's lots of reasons why we don't want to get infected with this virus. This is a nasty virus. It's breaking all the rules," said Dr. Persse.

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