Hays County has received “fewer than 2,000” doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to County Judge Ruben Becerra who addressed the public on Jan. 22 via Facebook Live.
During the live stream, Becerra confirmed the arrival of “frozen solid” vaccines which will be distributed by the county on Jan. 25-26, as well as the opening of the registration portal for those doses at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 22. All slots for available vaccinations were filled in less than 30 minutes.
The online portal encountered an opening delay, which Becerra says was due to similar difficulties experienced by other government agencies during pre-registration.
Emergency Services Office Director Mike Jones says the current vaccine rollout would be for 1A and 1B groups, which includes those with at least one chronic health condition and those 65 or older. Jones also says the county is working on “mobile dispensing sites” for vaccinations and aims to make them accessible to those who are “mobility challenged.”
Jones asks those who are receiving vaccinations to arrive five minutes early and to wear a mask and a short-sleeved shirt, if possible, for the first and second dosage of the vaccine — both of which will be administered at the same location the recipient registered originally.
While answering questions, Becerra clarifies there will be no waitlist for those who were not able to schedule an appointment for the first round of vaccinations, adding that the county is taking any vaccination variant made available to them.
“We know that this is crumbs,” Becerra says. “We know that we are not providing adequate vaccination for our community. We understand [that] is the reality everywhere.”
Becerra also addresses the increasing number of cases of the new strains of COVID-19 emerging from the United Kingdom and South Africa, which are evidently more contagious but not as deadly as the most common strain of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“These variants, under the current conditions, are still going to be captured by our vaccines,” Becerra says. “There may be a time in the future where they will no longer be as useful, but at this moment in time, I am assured by Dr. [Anthony] Fauci that they are.”
Becerra also reprimanded businesses in the county with “No Masks Required” signs, urging owners to follow health and safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the entire community.
“Even if your business may not close because of future tighter restrictions, it’s not fair to your fellow small business owners who will be forced to close,” Becerra says. “I challenge you, business owners, that want to challenge the idea of a mask, as your county judge and director of emergency management. I am pleading with you. Please, take those signs down and just allow the use of masks in your space.”
Becerra and other county officials provide COVID-19 updates every Friday at 1 p.m. via Facebook Live.
Residents of Hays County wishing to register for vaccination can sign up online at HaysCountyTX.com and over-the-phone by calling 512-938-1650. Becerra says phone lines are not capable of handling mass volumes of callers and advises residents to call only if internet access is not available.