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In Texas, we get vaccinated while driving

“I’m 89 and a half years old and I don’t want to die young,” says Mary Donegam, laughing, just before receiving the anti-Covid vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

South-east of Houston, a stone’s throw from the NASA Space Center, League City’s Walter Hall Park has been transformed into a “vaccinodrome”. No need for Mary Donegam to get out of the car her daughter is driving: all she has to do is wait in one of the five lines and roll down her window.

League City, Texas, February 5, 2021

“We find the drive-thru to be very convenient for the elderly,” says Dr. Philip Keizer, head of the Vaccine Working Group at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), because “some have motor problems. and cannot walk “.

Running Vaccinations

A real race for mass vaccination has started in the United States, where more than 450,000 people have succumbed to the virus.

The State of Texas has designated the UTMB, like 81 other large medical structures able to vaccinate on a large scale, as a “hub”, a center of concentration of resources.

Each time, the hospitals or public health services selected must focus on populations or territories at risk. In exchange, they are assured of stability in their delivery.

The week of February 1, the State of Texas gave them a large part of the 520,425 doses that were allocated to it.

“We learned that we had the status of + hub + on a Saturday. And the following Saturday, we had already used 800 doses”, welcomes Philip Keiser after three weeks of campaigning at this rate.

On the other side of Houston, to the north, the Woodlands branch of St. Luke’s Health Hospital became a “hub” the week of January 25, injecting 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and twice as many the following week.

Thursday, 1,200 people had registered to be vaccinated without leaving their vehicle.

“About five cars every five minutes” can pass, welcomes Eric Ransom, director of operations.

“Soon relieved”

A waiting list of people to contact at the last minute is planned to avoid any loss of vaccine. Because “once out of the refrigerator, the doses are still good for six hours,” explains Mr. Ransom.

Montgomery County has staff available to administer vaccines, hospital teams take care of patient registration, and student nurses and volunteers take care of the administrative work that follows.

With a straw hat on her head and a floral blouse, 72-year-old Eve Taylor looks on the verge of tears before her injection.

“I am moved by all the suffering this pandemic has caused to so many people. And a lot of people will still suffer before this is over. I hope we will be relieved soon.”

In his pick-up, Thomas Kula hopes that this vaccination will make it possible to approach the oldest people again without risk.

“My wife’s parents are almost 90 years old and we see them regularly. We were very careful when we were around them, but we thought it was just one more way to keep them safe.”

The Texas Department of Health estimates that vaccination will be extended to the general public in the spring. For now, it is reserved for those over 65, medical personnel, residents of long-term care facilities or people with “chronic medical conditions that increase their risk of serious Covid-19 infection. “.

But a sworn declaration is enough to register. Furthermore, no proof of their legal status in the territory is requested.

Ernesto Olvera, 39, was able to benefit from this system based on good citizenship. He is not part of the target audience but will have his sting anyway.

“I heard that since this was a matter of national security, everyone should be vaccinated. And I put my thumb up at that!” explains the young man.

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