Local firefighters were next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine this past week.
The Flower Mound Fire Department was one of the North Texas agencies to receive shipments of the vaccine from Moderna, and FMFD began administering the vaccine to other first responders in the area.
Members of the Lewisville Fire Department received their vaccines Tuesday through Thursday.
This week’s administration of the vaccine was part of Phase 1A, as designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), that also included home health care workers. Firefighters in Lewisville and Flower Mound qualified since they are also paramedics.
Lewisville Fire Chief Mark McNeal said this was a major step in the fight against the pandemic.
“The guys are excited to get past this pandemic,” McNeal said.
The vaccine requires two dosages 28 days apart. After that there will still be a two-week period before it becomes fully effective.
McNeal said approximately 67 members of the fire department received their vaccines by Thursday, though he said some opted not to get it.
McNeal said the department was careful in how it scheduled their crew to get the vaccine.
“Because of the potential side effects we wanted them get the vaccine as they’re getting off their shift so they could recoup before coming back to work,” McNeal said.
So far, McNeal said, the side effects have been minimal with nothing more than a slight fever.
“We’re excited to be at this stage,” McNeal said. “It’s great to have this vaccine developed and out this quickly.”
He since the vaccine is new and was put out quickly there is no long-term data to look to. That means those getting the vaccine now will play a part in the vaccine’s future.
“We’ll still be following it as things come up,” McNeal said. “We’ll be part of the study and will report if there are any symptoms.”
Denton County Public Health (DCPH) held a drive-thru vaccine clinic Monday at the University of North Texas’ Discovery Park facility as part of its Phase 1A distribution.
“We are excited about the vaccine’s arrival in Denton County as we continue to work on the first tier of vaccinations for our health care workers,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “We are following state guidelines to ensure vaccines received by the county go to fill in the gaps for those on the front lines, as well as our most vulnerable populations at long-term care facilities. We will continue to follow those guidelines as we receive additional vaccines and look forward to the day when every Denton County community member can easily find a vaccine provider for themselves.”
DCPH officials said they anticipating the arrival of additional vaccines at a future date from the state though an exact date is unknown at this time.
“We are pleased that DCPH is one of 140 registered vaccine providers in Denton County,” Eads said. “Unlike during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the county is not a vaccine depot center. The federal administration did not set up the COVID-19 vaccination process in the same way.”
As additional vaccine becomes available, DCPH will coordinate with EMS and home health agencies, as well as other phase 1A organizations, to pre-register and schedule health care workers for vaccination. Community members who are health care workers are encouraged to contact their employer for vaccination distribution.
With the expansion of the vaccine distribution group to include 1B on the DSHS guidelines, pre-registration for the remaining doses of vaccine opened at noon on Wednesday to individuals ages 65 and older or ages 16 and up with at least one chronic medical condition.
Individuals interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should first contact their local provider. For a list of providers who currently have vaccines, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services at tinyurl.com/yc2flw8u.
“As the vaccine begins to arrive in our communities, we must continue to practice personal responsibility with mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing,” stated Dr. Matt Richardson, director of DCPH. “While hope has arrived with the vaccine, COVID-19 remains highly infectious and our hospitals are currently strained with a large number of COVID-19 patients. Doing our part now, while we wait for our opportunity to get vaccinated, helps relieve that stress on our hospital systems and lower the number of new infections in Denton County.”
DCPH has a new COVID-19 vaccine website at https://DentonCounty.gov/COVID19vaccine, which provides the latest information on who can be vaccinated, when registration for DCPH vaccine clinics open/close and how to find other Denton County vaccine providers.
For local COVID-19 data including active case information by municipality, hospital capacity, and ventilator utilization, visit dentoncounty.gov/COVIDstats.