From registration to getting a shot, Hays County residents and local distributors are finding the process for getting a COVID-19 vaccine easier compared to previous weeks as doses become more accessible throughout the state.
As of March 29, all adults in Texas are eligible to receive a vaccine for free, with the federal government paying manufacturers to provide and distribute vaccines. As a result, local private practices, grocery store pharmacies and Texas State have ramped up their efforts to provide residents with shots.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 45% of Hays County residents 16 or older have received an initial dosage of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 29% of residents 16 or older are fully vaccinated.
At Texas State, all students, faculty and staff are eligible to receive a vaccine. The university's vaccination site is located at the LBJ Student Center, and anyone with a Texas State email can sign up through a registration link sent from the university.
As of now, Texas State does not have a weekly schedule for its vaccine sites but has administered vaccines throughout April. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up as soon as they are sent the registration email. Once submitting a request, applicants are informed on whether a vaccine is available for them, and if so, they are provided their first and second vaccine dosage dates.
Lluvia Beltran, a criminal justice junior, says getting vaccinated at the university was a smooth process.
"When I got to LBJ to get my vaccination, it was pretty easy. I mean, there was a long line, and I thought I was gonna wait for hours, but it went pretty quick," Beltran says. "The nursing students that [were there] did pretty good too; it wasn't that bad."
Beltran received the Pfizer vaccine and says she did not experience any harsh symptoms outside of some fatigue and a headache.
After going through the process of submitting a vaccine request, Beltran says the university should implement vaccination walk-ups to allow everyone an opportunity to be vaccinated.
"I feel like it is kind of inconvenient for a lot of people. I feel like some people don't even look at their school email, you know. I feel like Texas State should let [the LBJ Student Center] have walkups available for people," Beltran says. "I know [President Denise Trauth] is trying; she just sent an email that we're going back to [full campus capacity], back to [in-person classes] in the fall, and I feel like if she wants all of us to do good, I feel like we should all have the opportunity to get a vaccine if you wanted to."
H-E-B on 200 W. Hopkins St. provides both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The sign-up process consists of citizens visiting the H-E-B vaccination site where information on vaccine availability is provided. If vaccines are available, individuals are provided dates for their first and second doses.
The vaccination site fluctuates depending on the number of vaccinations the H-E-B Pharmacy has on hand, meaning people cannot sign up before the store knows the number of vaccinations in stock.
Some looking to be vaccinated at the store routinely check to see if vaccinations are available. According to the official H-E-B vaccination site, stores tend to have leftovers, opening availability to those who might not have previously scheduled an appointment.
Andrea Bowen, a mass communication sophomore, initially signed up through Texas State to receive her vaccination, but before her vaccination date, she was unexpectedly offered to get vaccinated at H-E-B on 200 W. Hopkins St. while visiting the store with her mother.
“The bathrooms are right next to the pharmacy, and this guy came out who's like, ‘Hey have y'all gotten vaccinated yet?' and I was like, 'No, but my mom has,’ and he just said that they happen to have extra leftovers. I guess some people didn’t come in. So, he asked me if I wanted to do it now,” Bowen says.
The process of getting the vaccine was easy, Bowen says. She estimates it only took 30-40 minutes.
“They asked me to stay 15 to 30 minutes just to make sure there's no symptoms or anything afterward, just [to] keep an eye on me," Bowen says. "Then after that, I just went back, and I checked in with them and they told me I was good to go. Then they said that I would get an email like a week before my second dose so I could get that scheduled. So it was really easy; it was really simple. It was awesome.”
Facilities such as the Hays County Local Health Center have provided vaccinations since early this year. At first, vaccines were only available to health-risk citizens in 1A and 1B vaccination groups. This allowed the county time to figure out the best methods to administer vaccinations.
The county has various distribution sites and private practices offering vaccines. The county also holds first dose vaccination clinics at CommuniCare in Kyle. The clinic location may change depending on the week, and the new locations can be found online, along with vaccination appointments.
The Hays County Emergency Services Team has also created a mobile team to distribute vaccinations to people unable to get to vaccination sites due to health concerns or disabilities. Anyone who needs this service can call 833-521-2766 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-4 p.m.
Lydia Kendrick, 60, was able to sign-up before all adults in Texas were qualified for the vaccine, but the wait time was longer than expected.
“I signed up with Hays County, probably a couple of months ago, and I kept wondering why they haven't called. I'm 60; I signed up under 1B,” Kendrick says. “Then, they sent out a survey that asked if you got your vaccine yet...and I said no. Two days later, they gave me a slot for both shots.”
Kendrick raves about the staff and volunteers that assisted her as she got her vaccine and says that it was a quick process.
“It was the San Marcos EMTs that were administering the shots in the lobby; you had to wear a mask in the lobbies and outside actually. Everybody was wearing a mask," Kendrick says. “People didn't sit right next to each other in the lobby when they were waiting; it was really a great experience."
For more information on local COVID-19 vaccine distribution areas, visit https://www.haysinformed.com.