Although Kerr County health care providers recently received a shipment of more than 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, it was quickly allocated by Tuesday, and it may be July before a significant number of local residents are vaccinated.
“The available appointments were gone within one minute,” said Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William B. “Dub” Thomas in a Feb. 2 press release. “It was incredible.”
In the last few days, The Kerrville Daily Times received phone calls and letters from the members of the public who tried to register for a vaccination only to find none was available.
“We have an extremely large number of people wanting vaccines, and we have a limited number of vaccines in this week’s shipment,” Thomas said in the Feb. 2 release. “But, at last, we can finally say that we are getting vaccine allocations from the state.”
The next vaccine registration period will offer citizens the following choices in how they book their appointments:
Online portal registration at vaccine.heb.com/scheduler, or
A toll-free number, 800-811-8620
The voice message that had been hard for some people to understand has been fixed, according to Thomas, who added he used his personal voice and slowed the message down substantially.
Residents can be notified of the next registration period through Kerr County’s CodeRed emergency notification system. Sign up for CodeRed by visiting the county’s site at https://www.co.kerr.tx.us/eservices/. Or visit the City of Kerrville at www.kerrville.tx.gov and look under “Helpful Links.”
Those who need assistance with signing up for CodeRed, or who have questions in general about the vaccines or the process of receiving an inoculation, can find help on the other end of the COVID-19 Call Center line any time between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, at 830-315-5900.
Peterson Health received 500 vaccine doses on Dec. 23, 2020, another 300 arrived on Feb. 1, and 3,100 vaccine doses have been allocated to Kerr County so far. Texas doesn’t expect to get through 1B vaccinations until July, according to Peterson Health.
Tier 1B includes people 65 years of age and older, individuals with compromised health over 16 years old and teachers, states a press release from the city, county and hospital last week.
There’s no evidence the vaccines that have been available locally can cause infertility or pregnancy complications, and they aren’t designed in such a way that they could alter a person’s DNA, according to an official with the local hospital.
Speaking during a presentation hosted Tuesday by the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, Kelli Griffith, assistant director of pharmacy at Peterson Health, provided information about the two vaccines being used in Kerr County made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The 23 women who became pregnant during COVID-19 trials had no complications, she said.
“It’s been a short amount of time since these vaccines started to be studied, so it would be difficult to provide infertility, but just the science shows that it does not have the ability to cause infertility,” Griffith said.
The vaccines, which teach the body to recognize the virus by introducing messenger RNA, cannot alter a person’s DNA, she said.
“MRNA does not have access to the nucleus; it does not carry reverstranscripase, which is the message, the code to get into the secret door. ... It can’t be integrated into the genome,” Griffith said. “It will not alter DNA.”
It’s not yet clear whether the vaccines can help prevent people from spreading the virus and how long vaccinated people are protected from reinfection by COVID-19.
“We still don't know yet, because we’re only months into testing these vaccines,” Griffith said.
People who experience severe COVID-19 vaccine side effects from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can’t sue the companies, and “the government likely won’t compensate you for damages either,” CNBC.com reports.
Both vaccines have 95% efficacy soon after the second dose, Griffith indicated.
“Ninety-five percent efficacy is knocking it out of the park,” Griffith said.
Johnson & Johnson is expected to soon file for emergency use authorization of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine that’s 85% effective, Peterson Health CEO Cory Edmondson presented on Feb. 3.
MASKS STILL ADVISED FOR THE VACCINATED
Masks should still be worn by people who have been vaccinated, Griffith said.
“You could still potentially be an asymptomatic carrier (even if you’ve had) the COVID vaccine, so we still need to wear our masks, wash our hands, disinfect those high-touch surfaces just out of protection for the people around us who may or may not have been vaccinated.”
There were three serious cardiac complications reported during vaccine trials, Griffith said. The patients had existing cardiac problems, and their cardiac complications following vaccination “were not specifically tied to the vaccine itself.”
Eight patients reported Bell's palsy out of 73,000 people vaccinated in Moderna and Pfizer trials, according to information from Peterson Health. Griffith indicated this isn’t statistically significant.
“That correlates with just the regular population who have not received the vaccine,” Griffith said.
Medical professionals are required to report adverse reactions from the vaccine, she said, and it’s best to wait 14 days between a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccination. No medications appear to conflict with the COVID-19 vaccine, she said.