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Montgomery County opens first mass vaccination site while frustration over access grows

HOUSTON – Montgomery County officials said Wednesday’s mass vaccination site has been running smoothly.

The site opened to the county’s eligible population at the Montgomery County Fairground Wednesday morning to a line.

Jason Mill Sapps, chief of staff to the Montgomery County judge, said 247 of the 2,000 reserved shots were administered within the first hour.

Sapps said the Conroe site will remain open until Friday to ensure the county honors all 2,000 reservations and appointments.

Frustrations continue to grow among those who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but can’t seem to get a shot. Oran Murphy is among that group.

Murphy is a proud U.S. Navy veteran and prostate cancer survivor. The 83-year-old has spent a lot of time in front of the television, sheltered at home since last March out of fear of catching the coronavirus.

“I don’t want to get near it,” the Navy vet said. “I just fret anywhere around it because I know if I get it I’m probably gone.”

Murphy has bad lungs and wears a pacemaker. He qualifies to get a vaccine because of his age but said the process to secure one is impossible. Murphy said the local U.S Veterans Affairs Department told him they haven’t received any doses. He said he finds that shocking.

“Now me being a patient at the VA, I can’t go to other places because they say no you’re not one of our patients,” Murphy said.

He said he was unaware that Montgomery County had opened up 2,000 slots online Tuesday for the Moderna vaccine. They were all accounted for within 20 minutes, according to county officials. Murphy said had he been aware, it wouldn’t have helped because he’s not technology savvy.

“You gotta be online to get an appointment,” Murphy said. “That’s just, that’s not right.”

Murphy said he feels people in his age group, as well as those who have fought for this country, should have easier access to the vaccine.

“I say go back up the chain and find where it happened. Why didn’t we get the shots? Why aren’t we getting the shots? Where did the buck stop?” Murphy said.

Montgomery County officials are urging those that currently qualify for the vaccine to contact Lone Star Family Health Center to try to get their names on a waiting list for the next round of shots. The number is 936-539-4004.

There are roughly 4,000 people on the waiting list, officials said.