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FEMA vaccine mega-site aims to vaccinate most vulnerable communities

HOUSTON – A small number of people were allowed inside NRG Park’s new mass vaccination site for its soft-opening Tuesday.

The FEMA site will be fully operational on Wednesday.

The mega-site is set to open to those on the city of Houston and Harris County’s waitlists. Once the site is open, the goal is to have 126,000 people that meet eligibility requirements get vaccinated. City and county leaders say the focus will be on the elderly, vulnerable and high-risk zip codes.

Sunnyside falls within the 70051 zip code, which is among a list of 35 zip codes with the highest risk for COVID-19. Sunnyside has 1,255 confirmed cases, according to Harris County’s COVID-19 database. Zip code 77036, which encompasses Sharpstown, is another high-risk area with 5,808 confirmed cases.

Emily Woodson has worked as a school nurse in Sunnyside for 10 years. She’s received her vaccination in January along with HISD staff. Woodson said she knows a lot of people who are many people she still waiting for their turn to roll up their sleeves.

“I know that I’ve personally put several people on the list and they’re just getting called and I know I did that as soon as the list was available,” Woodson said.

The school nurse said she thinks the NRG Park site is a great effort in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but vaccines also need to make their way into those vulnerable communities.

“It may seem like nothing to someone to get to NRG because that’s a popular place, however, if you don’t have transportation it’s much easier to ask your neighbor can you run me up to the Sunnyside health clinic,” Woodson said.

The high risk zip codes on Houston’s radar are: 77022, 77029, 77032, 77078, 77087, 77093, 77502, 77504, 77506, 77587, 77011, 77012, 77015, 77016, 77020, 77026, 77028, 77033, 77037, 77038, 77039, 77048, 77086, 77091, 77503, 77060, 77080, 77099, 77013, 77014, 77036, 77050, 77051, 77076 and 77090.