During a recent AARP Texas tele-townhall, Cameron County officials urged patience while providing essential updates on vaccine delays caused by the winter storm.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño began the Thursday (Feb. 25) tele-townhall by addressing the recent winter storm. "I want to extend my apologies to everyone that had to suffer because our state was ill-prepared for this," said Treviño.
"Right now, we have been declared a disaster area, so FEMA assistance is available. If you have insurance, you need to go through your insurance company". Residents of Cameron County can also visit https://www.cameroncounty.us/ to report any damage caused by the storm.
Cameron County Public Health Authority Dr. James Castillo also provided an update on vaccination efforts mentioning that the storm caused a delay in second dose vaccine administration. "The second dose clinic was delayed this past Sunday. We have another second dose clinic this Friday."
When asked about vaccine distribution status in Cameron County, Judge Treviño responded by emphasizing the limited supply the county is receiving.
"Just like every other part of the state, we are not receiving enough vaccine doses for the number of people that want to be served. The good part is that there has not been a shortage of demand. Most people want to receive the vaccine," he said.
"We realized number wise, if you are 65 and older, the risk of being hospitalized and possibly dying is so much higher than we felt we needed to focus on this segment of the local population first. That's why we started limiting our clinics to 65 and older. Until two weeks ago, the state had not given us the authority to share our vaccines with doctors' offices and clinics. They finally gave us that authority, but it is the same problem, we are not getting enough doses."
In response to another question about vaccine distribution for the homebound, Castillo told listeners that the county is trying its best to expand the accessibility of the vaccine.
"For people with limited mobility or major risk, we have been trying to make efforts to get the doses to the doctors' offices," said Castillo.
Treviño also mentioned that the county is expanding its list of the homebound population by working with organizations like Meals on Wheels. "We have been allocating a small number of weekly doses we get to try to assist and address those who are homebound."
During the event, a caller expressed their frustration with the vaccine registration system, pointing out that the Cameron County website fails to advertise new vaccine appointments until after the fact.
Treviño acknowledged the caller's grievance and explained why vaccine distribution feels disjointed.
"It's hard to plan ahead of time because the state isn't telling us when we are getting the next doses. We don't have a lot of time to plan these clinics, whether that be a mass clinic or giving them to doctors' offices. It is the unfortunate reality of having more demand than supply," said Treviño,
Castillo also mentioned that if residents want information on future vaccination efforts, the Cameron County Public Health Facebook page provides consistent updates.
When discussing the vaccine administration sites, Treviño made a point to discourage residents from showing up before the day of their appointment. People with confirmed appointments will receive a color-coded sticker that corresponds with their appointment time. Unfortunately, many residents ignore their scheduled times and show up early, which results in long waiting times for everyone. Treviño promised residents that if they are scheduled for a vaccine, they will receive it, emphasizing that there is no need to show up early to guarantee access.
Castillo ended the town hall by thanking residents for their patience and promising more accessibility to vaccines as supply ramps up. "It is completely not what we are used to in healthcare of the U.S., I wish the plan was better, but we are blessed to have such an effective vaccine."
To find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.aarp.org/TxVaccine. You can find that information in Spanish at aarp.org/vacunatx.
Friday, Jun 18, 2021 at 11:00am Central Time
Friday, Jun 25, 2021 at 1:00pm Central Time
Thursday, Jun 24, 2021 at 6:00pm Pacific Time
Online via Zoom
JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR