HOUSTON – The FEMA supersite at NRG Park became fully operational Wednesday. The site plans to administer 126,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine over a three-week period.
“The vaccination site here at NRG Park is the largest operation we are running in Texas,” said FEMA spokeswoman Carmen Castro. “The plan is to have everyone in and out in 45 minutes.”
On Thursday, hundreds of people turned up for the second day of vaccinations at the mega-site. While things ran smoothly for the most part, the system still experienced some issues like it did Wednesday.
Despite the setbacks, KPRC 2 reporter Vincent Crivelli spoke with some of the people who, for the most part, said the process was fast-moving and were pleased with the logistics.
FEMA said many of the technical issues experienced Wednesday were fixed ahead of Thursday’s opening. However, not everyone had a positive experience.
One woman said she booked her first dose through the county and received the Moderna vaccine. Then she drove to the mega-site Thursday with an appointment to get her second dose but was told to leave because they only had Pfizer vaccines available.
“I started crying, I was distraught, I was hurt, I was disappointed,” she said. “It was all for nothing. The mayor and the judge have been doing an excellent job, I applaud them. However, this, whatever is broken here at NRG, needs to be repaired.”
According to the woman, workers told her others have experienced similar issues. Crivelli reached out the Harris County Health for a comment on the issue but has not heard back.
Wednesday’s massive vaccination effort comes just a day before a widely expected decision to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use.
“The more vaccines the better, the faster we get to herd immunity the faster we get back to normal,” said Doctor Linda Yancey, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Memorial Hermann.
“It is slightly less effective than the mRNA vaccines but we’re going from 95 down to 70 to 80 percent, so they’re all still highly effective,” said Yancey.
The long-anticipated option is a single-dose vaccine that has tremendous upside, according to Yancey.
“They can be stored at refrigerator temperature for six months and you don’t have to use them the same day you open the vial,” Yancey said.
On Friday, the FDA’s independent advisers will meet and debate whether or not the evidence is strong enough to recommend the shot.