A third COVID-19 vaccine hub was announced in East Texas on Monday with the addition of the Christus Good Shepherd Health System.
Through the program, the state will send thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Christus Good Shepherd each week which the hospital will then administer to qualifying individuals. Those interested in receiving the vaccine must schedule an appointment to attend an upcoming vaccine clinic.
Christus announced Monday that it was launching the My Shot Now campaign with weekend clinics scheduled through Feb. 21. More clinics are anticipated to follow over the coming weeks and months.
In Smith County, UT Health Science Center at Tyler and the Northeast Texas Public Health District were been named as two of the hubs in the state for COVID-19 vaccine distribution earlier this month and started administering the first round of vaccine’s.
The same is happening now in Gregg County as Christus is being supplied with the Pfizer vaccine.
“We’ve heard from the public. They’ve waited patiently. They want their shot now and this is their time,” Christus Good Shepherd Health System CEO Todd Hancock said. “This marks a very important milestone as we move forward and this is going to be the mechanism by how we return to normalcy, not only here locally but regionally, statewide and nationally.”
The announcement of Christus Good Shepherd as a vaccine hub marks the first such hub in Gregg County. There are 78 other vaccine hubs in the state. The nearest to Longview are in Smith County, which has two hubs.
Beginning Saturday, Christus Good Shepherd and Christus Trinity Clinic staff along with first responders from Longview and Gregg County will begin a weekend clinic to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to those who fall into Phase 1A or 1B of the state’s vaccination program. Qualifying individuals include healthcare workers, those older than 65 and those with chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, cancer and others.
The vaccine clinics, which will be held at the Longview Exhibit Center at the Longview Convention Complex, are free to attend but pre-registration is required. Registration can be made online at vaccinate.christushealth.org or by calling (877) 335-5746.
By 5 p.m. Monday, all available appointments for this weekend’s clinic had been filled. The soonest available appointments were Feb. 14 and Feb. 21.
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as two shots; an initial injection and then a follow-up shot administered 21 days later.
Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said Monday he is proud of the “sustainable program” that the county, city and health care system are creating in partnership with the state.
When Gregg County leaders first approached representatives in Austin about the possibility of a vaccine program here, Stoudt said a key component for Gregg County’s leaders was that this be a sustainable program. He noted the county wanted to offer more than a one-time clinic.
“We wanted a sustainable program that we would be able to give shots out month after month after month. That is the intent of this program that makes it so much different than what’s been done in the past,” he said.
Longview Mayor Andy Mack said he believes the weekly vaccine program is what the community needs “to turn the tide and help us get back to normal.”
“There is a normal still out there, we just have to get back to it,” Mack said.