A Message from Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales on COVID-19 Mega Clinics

City of Corpus Christi seal, Public Health logo and County of Nueces seal

County Judge
Nueces County Courthouse, Room 303
901 Leopard Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401-3697

January 15, 2021

To my fellow Nueces County residents and Coastal Bend neighbors,

As the sun sets on Friday, I wanted to provide you an update on our efforts to deliver vaccines to our most vulnerable neighbors.

We completed the first day of our second vaccine clinic of the week, delivering about 2500 doses out of the 5000 we were shipped. We will start again tomorrow morning and deliver the balance of the 5000 doses on Saturday. In addition to our 1B priority population (65 and older, certain pre-existing conditions) we were able to call in and vaccinate many 1A personnel (first responders, medical personnel who work with those at for high-risk COVID-19, and transit workers) who had not had the opportunity go get the vaccine yet. It was a good day, and it will have been a good week by this time Saturday night.

We anticipate a delivery of additional vaccines Monday for another Mega Clinic at the fairgrounds on Tuesday. We have not yet been informed of the quantity of vaccine we will receive. When we know, we will determine how long the clinic will be open. Frustrating, but it’s our reality while vaccine supplies are limited.

We understand that many eligible residents are homebound or lack transportation to the Mega Clinic. We are working to get in-home delivery for these residents using our firefighters, who are also trained EMTs. Additionally, we are working with other providers to run neighborhood clinics.

Those in-home deliveries and neighborhood clinics will be announced when we have vaccines for them. Some have suggested that we divert the vaccines provided to the Mega Clinic to smaller efforts. We are prohibited from diverting vaccines sent for the Mega Clinic by the distribution rules set by the State of Texas, which established the regional large clinics.

I support and endorse this approach because vaccines are still scarce, and large clinics get the most eligible people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Large clinics are more efficient, small clinics are more convenient. As supplies are still limited, we need to be as efficient as possible. Fortunately, the production of vaccines is increasing every day. I look forward to us having enough supply to support a wide variety of options soon.

Our drive-through Mega Clinic has vaccinated more than 6500 people in three days, and will vaccinate about 2500 more tomorrow. That means 9000 of our most vulnerable people have got their first dose.

Is it perfect? Far from it. From weather delays getting our vaccines here to registration and traffic issues, we have had a steep learning curve. But each day, our processes are getting better and we are delivering more vaccines in less time. We are learning quickly, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions to improve operations. Because of our proven ability to deliver, we got an increase in the amount of vaccine we were provided by the State of Texas. Your ideas to make it better will help even more.

We are, however , bounded by reality. The demand is tremendous. Supplies are limited, and we don’t now when future shipments will arrive. This will improve as vaccine manufacturing ramps up.

I am proud of everyone who has made our first days a success, and for the goodwill and understanding shown by everyone I’ve encountered. South Texas Friendly, or as we say in my family, cariño (caring) is alive and well despite nearly a year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It makes me grateful and humbled to represent you.

And as proud as I am of our first 4 days of operations – 9000 vaccines, awesome! – I am looking at the long road ahead of us. Our regional Mega Clinic serves our county of more than 360,000 and a region of about one million. The vaccine requires two doses – so in a month, this week’s 9000 people will be getting their second dose – and everyone who gets a first dose in the coming weeks will need a second dose after their first. And everyone  who wants the vaccine wants the vaccine NOW.

The task before us is enormous, and it takes everyone working together – our City-County Health Department and all the police, firefighters, EMTs, and volunteers – to make this large operation run and deliver the most vaccines to the most vulnerable as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will be joined by other providers as more vaccines become available, and together, we will work our way through the priority list until everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.

In sports terms, we are playing both offense and defense now. We’re playing offense by getting as much vaccine to the most vulnerable as quickly as possible, and our offense will get stronger as vaccine supplies increase. And we need to continue to play good defense – practice the 3 Ws – wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your distance. 

Together, we can work to defeat the coronavirus.

There’s no better way to sum the week than Nueces County – Strong and Proud!

Barbara Canales
Nueces County Judge

A copy of this letter can be downloaded at https://www.nuecesco.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=27755