Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee holds vaccination clinic in Fifth Ward amid growing variant cases

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston-area health care leaders and lawmakers are coming together to sound the alarm on the urgency of vaccinations in the midst of spiking cases which has caused a fourth wave of COVID-19 this summer.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at a community center in Houston's Fifth Ward on Saturday. The goal was to inform and encourage Texans who have not been vaccinated yet to do so as the Delta variant has become more prevalent.

"Texas is one of the red hotspots in the nation," Jackson Lee said. "We have over a million cases, and we continue to grow those cases because the number of unvaccinated persons in Texas."

Jackson Lee said there is a lot of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 which she attributes to some people's hesitancy to get the shot.

Across the city, clinics have seen a drastic decrease in the demand for vaccines.

United Memorial Medical Center Chief of Critical Care, Dr. Joseph Varon, said his hospital has vaccines ready to administer, but not enough people are getting in line.

"I'm going to tell you what I see on day-to-day basis," Varon said. "Over the last 10 days, 500% increase in the number of admissions of patients to my hospital. Families, entire families, come to the hospital, and some of them are not going to survive. Prior to this, we had seen that the numbers were going down. People were getting vaccinated, but people are now tired. They now have COVID-19 fatigue syndrome, they are tired of hearing about it."

Varon said the majority of his patients in the COVID-19 unit are minorities.

Fredo Asifiwe said her mother Goreth was afraid to get the COVID-19 shot for fear of the side effects and misinformation that had been circulating throughout the community.

They were both at the clinic on Saturday. Fredo said she hopes the vaccine will give an added layer of protection and allow them to live their lives more freely than they are now.

"A lot of her friends got it[vaccinated], and they are older," Asifiwe said. "Then people were like, 'Because you're getting older, you should probably get it because there's a higher change of you getting sick.' So, I think that's why she got it."

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, about 53% of people 12 and up in Harris County are fully vaccinated, but the goal was to have about 70% of the population vaccinated by end of the summer.

On Thursday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the county's COVID-19 threat level from yellow "moderate" to orange "significant" in the midst of spiking cases.

The Biden Administration announced on Saturday that they will order 200 million additional Pfizer vaccines, with a focus on children 12 and up who are eligible to get it.

Local educator Karen Booker said despite her being already vaccinated, she decided to take her son to the clinic on Saturday to get his first dose ahead of school this fall.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine outreach event at Walmart on 4412 North Freeway on Monday, July 26 and Tuesday, July 27, 2021, to encourage families and all Texans age 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to a press release from the state health department.

It will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. both days. There will also be games and activities for the children.

For more on vaccine hesitancy in the Houston area, follow Roxie Bustamante on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.