AUSTIN, Texas – With the state of Texas experiencing an alarming and critical surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the pressure to distribute vaccines is greater than ever.
Since the state launched large vaccine centers to streamline distribution, the Travis County hub has received the majority of vaccine allocations in the area, leaving individual vendors unsure of when they might receive more doses from the state in the future.
The Austin Regional Clinic hasn’t received any additional first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since early January, but the CEO of ARC says the group is ready to efficiently vaccinate people as more doses become available.
As a medical assistant at ARC, Valeri Llanos was one of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When I came in to get the vaccine, when I saw everyone there, it was like a moment in history,” Llanos said.
It’s a moment to relive while also vaccinating patients.
“At first I feel like it was just my job, but when I was working and vaccinating the patients, their excitement about going to the clinic altogether and getting that vaccination had a very different perspective on things. It made me more excited, “said Llanos.
So far, ARC has vaccinated about 8000 people against COVID-19. Coordinating the vaccination schedules required months of additional planning.
“With COVID, there were a bit of different complexities here because of the speed we want to move at. We’re really focused on scaling, how fast we can scale it, and how fast we can move it.” said Dr. Anas Daghestani, CEO of the ARC.
The last week of January is the third week that ARC has not received additional first doses of the vaccine, with most of the allotment of the area going to the state vaccination center.
Daghestani says if the state gives them more doses they will be ready.
“We are able to have the capacity and the resources to give about 1,000 a day,” said Daghestani.
Llanos is looking forward to it.
“When everyone in the community starts getting vaccinated, it is a light, a healthy light, to let us know that we are certainly going in the right direction,” Llanos said.
Daghestani says that while the excitement and zeal surrounding the vaccine is understandable, the availability of the vaccine is limited, it is still important that people continue to wear their masks and social distancing.
“I know it’s difficult. I know everyone was tired. I know it’s been a year. But we cannot lay down our watch, “said Daghestani.” We are nearly there. We have to push our way through the final quarter. “