Monday, January 04, 2021

Health Department Makes COVID-19 Vaccine Call

Mayor Brenda Gunter and Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd held a press event mostly focused on vaccines on December 30th.   Yahoo News reported:

For the most part, state health departments say vaccines will be available at some combination of local hospitals, health departments, pharmacies, medical offices, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. The federal government has partnered with large chain pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. 
Texas said the decisions and procedures would be left up to each of its 50 individual local health departments.

San Angelo City Council cut the budget for the City-County Health Department in the midst of a pandemic.  The only clinical functions left at the Health Department are STD testing and treatment, TB testing and treatment and the administration of vaccines.  The Health Department is not listed a possible source for COVID-19 vaccines.  Sites given include Shannon Pharmacy and HEB's two pharmacies.  

On December 15, 2020 Shannon Medical Center received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine, and began administering doses to the Phase 1A priority group. The Phase 1B priority group should begin soon.

The City referenced State of Texas priorities for vaccines.  Local police received the vaccine even they are not expressly in the 1A group for receiving vaccines.

The San Angelo Health Department is remaining vigilant and monitoring the developing outbreak, alongside its public health partners, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the CDC.  

The Health Department is responsible for Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness is responsible for planning, preparing for and responding to all types of public health threats and emergencies that impact the health of San Angelo.

COVID-19 vaccine administration is part of that response.  The Health Department has staff capable of administering vaccines to the public.  It's unclear if City staff will play any role in vaccinating citizens.  Department leaders are making that call.  The City chose not to use any federal funding for testing citizens by health department staff.

The San Angelo Health Department does not administer COVID-19 tests. The Health Department is responsible for reporting testing information to the state. 

Houston's Health Department offers COVID-19 testing, alongside many partners.

"Remaining vigilant and monitoring the outbreak" sounds relatively hands off for a department charged with responding to a pandemic that has killed 218 and hospitalized 1,448 people in our community.

Update 1-6-21:  The City announced it would administer a limited number of COVID-19 vaccinations to citizens without a primary care physician

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