While Guadalupe County is ready for COVID-19 vaccines to arrive, officials say they’re in the middle of the waiting game. And it could be a while before the county is designated as a vaccine hub.
During the regular meeting of the commissioners court, Guadalupe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patrick Pinder said the county, Schertz EMS and Guadalupe Regional Medical Center have all requested vaccines from the state, but the orders have only slightly been filled.
“Typically what we have been seeing is about 500 doses allocated to either Schertz EMS. The hospital was able to 800 for their staff because that is what they requested,” he said. “The hospital requested last week over 5,000 doses so we can hopefully get some of those. Schertz’s request was 10,000 and the biggest allocation they’ve gotten is 975.”
As it stands about 4,800 people have received the first does of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, while 1,607 of those have gotten the second shot, Pinder said.
“We’ve requested that many vaccines through partnerships with Schertz EMS, through New Braunfels Comal County Public Health and the hospitals,” he said. “Hopefully we can get those to the county and we can set up a vaccine site.”
Guadalupe County has about 5,100 people in the 1A category, which includes healthcare professionals, law enforcement, fire and EMS, as well as residents in long-term care facilities, Pinder said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services estimates there about 24,000 people in the County who are ages 65 and older, with another estimated 26,000 with medical issues, placing them in the 1B category, Pinder said.
Commissioner Greg Seidenberger questioned whether educators were included in any of the the classifications.
“We’ve started talking to school districts. They have created a list internally of their 1B population in staffing,” Pinder said. “We have not addressed all teachers at this time. We have only addressed the 1B staffing, so that the people who are 65 and older or who have medical conditions, the school districts polled their staff and we have that list.”
Pinder is still working on ensuring that all of the county’s law enforcement, firefighters and EMS providers receive the vaccination.
While county, city and local healthcare officials are working to get vaccines to the county residents, ultimately, it is up to the state, Commissioner Drew Engelke said.
“We’re basically in a waiting game,” he said. “The county is waiting on the state to allocate (vaccines) to the county. We’re doing what we can to get the allocations, but we’re in a holding pattern as far as distribution. It is not up to Guadalupe County, it is the state.”
The state prioritizes vaccines and directs them to hubs before medical providers, Pinder said. While the county has asked for the designation as a hub, Pinder said it won’t happen immediately.
“If you look at the state’s website there are two different categories,” he said. “There are medical care providers and there are hubs.
San Antonio is a hub. That is why San Antonio is getting the vaccine. You’re seeing the allocations of 9,000 of this and 9,000 of that, they are a hub. That is what the state set them up as. Until we hit that hub list, which I don’t see us hitting that any time soon, we won’t be put in priority.”
At the rate the state is distributing vaccines is could take more than a year for every Texas resident to get inoculated, Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher said.
“We’ve got right around 2 million vaccines distributed in the state of Texas for 30 million Texans,” he said.”If they were distributing 200,000 to 250,000 vaccines per week, it would take over 70 weeks to vaccinate the entire state of Texas. We’ve got some supply deficiencies to sat the least.”
Until that happens, Kutscher said they will continue to prepare and plan.
“I just want to reassure the public that we are doing everything we possibly can,” he said. “We’re focusing every resource we possibly have to make sure we’re as planned and prepared as possible to be able to distribute thousands upon thousands of vaccines when they become available. We appreciate everyone’s patience. I understand it is frustrating, but we’re pushing every avenue we possibly can and we’ll continue to work on those plans so we are as prepared as possible.”
According to the DSHS, Guadalupe County has 695 active cases, with 147 new cases since Friday, with a total of 9,370 recovers out of 10,116 total cases. There are 2,417 cases pending investigation, 6,665 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,034 probable cases. DSHS is reporting 51 deaths. Guadalupe Regional Medical Center has reported to officials that 61 county residents have died in its facility from the disease, while the state COVID-19 Dashboard shows 139 fatalities.