NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Close to a thousand federally supported health services across the nation are invited to participate in the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. The East Texas Community Health Services continues to wait for an invitation.
The administrator said when asked, she’ll literally roll out services across Deep East Texas. In the back parking lot of the Nacogdoches East Texas Community Health Services sits its mobile unit. It sports a flashy new vehicle wrap. Inside, it’s fully equipped, so staff members can administer COVID-19 vaccines and dental and primary care.
“We didn’t go that level of implementation to have yard art,” said director Anita Humphreys.
Anita Humphreys is anxious for the mobile unit to travel to six medically underserved Deep East Texas counties. But there’s not enough vaccine. The wait continues for additional doses, so they can make the trips worthwhile.
Humphreys explains the three-tier allocation places ETCH in the last tier. Metropolitan areas and very isolated areas receive top priority.
“Once approved, we’ll start receiving a federal allocation of vaccines in addition to our current allocation.”
The current allocation comes from the state. And, typically, it is no more than 300 doses per week. The amount is better suited for clinical use, but not enough to transport miles beyond.
“Once we get an adequate number of vaccines, our plan is to use it for rural distribution and for places where transportation is a bigger problem than the general population,” Humphreys said.
Also, on standby are large, medical refrigerator/freezer units, gifts from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.
Lead nurse Tikea Caldwell is anxious to fill it up with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ll definitely have the capacity to store more COVID vaccine to be able to give to the public,” Caldwell said. “That’s our goal.”
The units can store thousands of vaccine vials. An amount Humphreys says can be distributed when given the opportunity.
East Texas Community Health Center serves Nacogdoches, Angelina, Cherokee, Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby Counties.