So far, more than 3,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses are set for distribution in Guadalupe County.
However, county officials have no say in how a list of seven entities distribute the vaccine, Guadalupe County Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Bryce Houlton said Tuesday morning at a regular meeting of the county commissioners court.
“Each entity listed on that list had to submit a plan to the Department of State Health Services on how they would give out the vaccine,” Houlton said. “The county had no jurisdiction on how they would give them out.”
The list includes Guadalupe Regional Medical Center with 800 doses, Schertz EMS with 500, Schertz H-E-B and Seguin H-E-B with 200 each, Schertz Walgreens and Seguin Walgreens receiving 100 apiece and local medical providers and clinics collecting 1,400 doses, he said. That amounts to 3,300 doses of the vaccine coming into the county by week’s end with county officials being left out of the loop on dissemination.
GRMC, which received its allotment just before Christmas, distributed its doses to frontline workers and first responders, Houlton said. Personnel at the H-E-B and Walgreens locations have reached out to medical providers in their areas to start giving them doses, he said. His office didn’t know where or to whom the stores would offer the vaccines.
“Everybody wants to know the same thing: How many vaccines are we getting and when will we have the chance to get it,” Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher said, before adding that the county has been left out of the planning stages. “It’s a bit frustrating from our standpoint, but it’s consistent with the way the entire pandemic has been.”
Members of the general public who want access to the vaccine should contact their primary care physicians, Kutscher said.
Residents also should check with a primary care physician to learn whether taking the vaccine is a good idea for each individual, Kutscher and Houlton said. Also, people should check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services for more pertinent information about the vaccine, Houlton said.
As COVID-19 vaccines trickle down to the masses, Guadalupe County employees interested in accepting the medicine received some good news last week.
Commissioners court on Dec. 29 approved a measure to pay for all county workers who are interested to be vaccinated for free.
“We’re going to take care of that for our county employees,” Kutscher said. “It’s kind of one less thing to worry about when it comes to COVID.”
The move adds the vaccine to the list of covered items under the county’s healthcare plan, he said. The plan is covered by the Texas Association of Counties Health and Employee Benefits Pool if Guadalupe County chose not to opt out, Kutscher said.
“TAC, the Texas Association of Counties, opted into that for al counties in the state,” he said. “Counties had to make the decision to opt out.”
Guadalupe County commissioners voted against opting out, the judge said.
Vaccines that require two doses have costs of $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second dose. For vaccines that only requires one dose, the county’s insurance plan will pay $28.39.
Commissioners court members hadn’t heard directly from many of its roughly 585 county employees whether they are interested in receiving the vaccine, Kutscher said. But commissioners have seen studies suggesting between 40% and 50% of people want or are willing to take the vaccine, he said.
“What we’ve been hearing from others is somewhere in that range,” Kutscher said. “In this day and age, it’s understandable. Everybody’s divided so it makes sense to say 50% or close to it.”
Vaccines at a cost of about $45.33 for two doses for 300 county employees — nearly 50% — would run the county’s insurance about $13,600, the judge said.
“It’s a considerable amount of money but in the scheme of things when you look at your work staff and all the county employees and how important they are to the public, $13,000 or $14,000 is not that huge when you look at all the people going to get a vaccine if they wish to,” Kutscher said. “County employees have been providing service to the public the entire time. We thought it was important for them, if they want the vaccine, to not have to pay to go and get it.”
Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com .