Willacy County holds first COVID-19 vaccine clinic using unique method
Willacy County, with the help of the Department of State Health Services Region 11 Office, hosted its first vaccine clinic on Friday, issuing a total of 780 vaccines.
"The vaccinations that we got will only cover about 3 percent of the population in Willacy County," said Willacy County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Torres. "That's not very much, but that's 3 percent that we got taken care of and we're working on the other 97 percent."
The county went a different route with vaccine registration, issuing vouchers to all local physicians in Willacy County. Local physicians then distributed the vouchers to community members, who completed the forms and brought them to the EMS Office where people were given a time to show up to Raymondville High School on Friday.
It's a unique method that worked well for Willacy County.
"For us it worked beautifully," Torres said. "We're a small community. We had a very very small amount of vaccines available to us so we just tried to execute and work with our doctors offices to get it out to the most vulnerable people."
Since the county doesn't have its own health department, they rely on the state's regional health department to help get vaccines.
According to Emilie Prot, Regional Medical Director for Public Health Region 11, several factors contributed to Willacy county receiving vaccines weeks after neighboring counties.
"As long as you have medical providers and that you have staff to vaccinate, you can enroll as a provider with the state," Prot said. "However, some of the counties have been a little bit slower of going through the process and Willacy has been one of those."
Prot's team has been working closely with the county, but she says there are others who need their help at the same time.
"Our regional health department does cover 13 different counties, so we have to share the love or share the vaccine," Prot said. "We're trying to rotate through different counties, so we're not going to be back most likely next week for Willacy County."
Prot says vaccine supply is also a factor that could make it another couple of weeks before the next clinic in Willacy County, and is asking for patience as they work to get more vaccines as quickly as possible.