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While it is recommended that only Texas residents that fall under the 1A and 1B categories signup for the vaccine clinic, that isn’t always the case. And there isn’t anything local officials say they can do.

Due to concerns surrounding the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act, officials in Seguin were unable Tuesday to verify people registering for COVID-19 vaccines actually were eligible.

Demand remains high and so 5,000 registration slots to receive vaccinations in Seguin filled up with lightning speed Tuesday. But whether those who registered are in the government’s phase 1A or 1B as required is a mystery, said Seguin Fire Marshal Greg Dreiss, who helped set up registration.

“Because of health information restrictions, once they sign up, we don’t have a way to prove or disprove it,” he said. “That’s why multiple places in the past have asked, ‘Please be honest and let the ones who are truly in the 1B category get the vaccine first.’”

On Monday in a joint statement, representatives of Guadalupe Regional Medical Center, Guadalupe County government and the city of Seguin announced a three-day vaccine clinic to administer 5,000 first round doses of the Moderna vaccine starting Wednesday at the Seguin Coliseum.

The joint statement said that vaccine distribution to people in phases 1A and 1B is per state guidelines.

Phase 1A includes front-line hospital workers, longterm care staff, emergency response personnel, home health workers and residents of longterm care facilities.

Phase 1B includes people 65 and older, and people 18 and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Some of those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity and sickle cell disease.

But organizers of the clinics are not allowed to confirm the presence of such conditions in recipients, Dreiss said.

“The way the state is setting up their stuff, we’re not even supposed to ask that stuff,” he said.

Phase 1B people are at a higher risk of death from COVID-19, Dreiss said. They are also are at high risk of suffering longterm lasting effects of the disease, he said.

City, county and hospital representatives ask that community members practice the honor system to help the most vulnerable get a chance at receiving the vaccine, Dreiss said. Because there’s no real way authorities can stop someone from cheating the system, he said.

“Once they’re signed up, I can’t see you walk up and say, ‘You’re not a 1B,’” Dreiss said. “How do I know that? How do I know you don’t have cancer or diabetes? I’m not allowed to ask that.”

Officials are pleading for community members who are in phase 1B sign up and get the shots, and those who are not, wait their turns.

“Unfortunately, we are truly at the mercy of people being honest and allowing people who need this vaccine to get it first,” Dreiss said. “It’s of the utmost importance we be good stewards of this vaccine coming around and allowing those who need it to get it.”

Guadalupe Regional Medical Center personnel don’t know when the next shipment of first-round vaccines will arrive or how many the state will allocate to the facility, Public Information Officer Elizabeth McCown said.

People who receive first-round shots in this week’s clinic can expect the hospital to receive a shipment of 5,000 doses of the second shot within about four weeks, she said.

If and when more doses make their way to the county, issuance will be according to state guidelines then as well. People interested in vaccination should wait their turns and be patient with the process, McCown said.

“The demand is much greater than the supply right now,” she said. “As much as we want to make it accessible to everyone, it’s just not in our capabilities right now, as it is [not] across the country.

“What we’re doing here is what they’re doing everywhere across the country.”

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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