Fort Bend County Judge KP George lowers county’s COVID-19 risk level from orange to yellow
Fort Bend County Judge KP George lowered the county’s COVID-19 Threat Level Indicator from orange, the system’s second-highest threat level, to yellow, the system’s second-lowest threat level, due to a decrease in COVID-19 cases, ICU visits and hospitalizations over the past several weeks.
‘Texas is open 100%’: Gov. Abbott signing law that prohibits any Texas business from requiring vaccine passports, vaccination information
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he will be signing a law into place that will prohibit any Texas business from requiring vaccine passports or vaccination information.
Mother claims her 17-year-old son was mistakenly given the Moderna vaccine at Houston area clinic
One Houston area mother and her 17-year-old son have been dealing with the headache of having to figure out what to do after her son mistakenly received the Moderna vaccine through HCA due to a clerical error.
Houston Methodist Hospital makes COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all employees
HOUSTON – Houston Methodist Hospital becomes one of the first big hospitals to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for everyone who works there. “As part of Houston Methodist management, we must lead by example and get vaccinated ourselves. At Houston Methodist, we’ve made a commitment to offer our patients unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation. You now have until April 15 to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or get an approved exemption. “The number of our employees getting sick with COVID has greatly reduced as the number of vaccines has increased,” Hackett said.
1,000 doses administered at Booker T. Washington High School pop-up vaccination site in Independence Heights
HOUSTON – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, along with the United Memorial Medical Center, hosted a vaccination site in the Independence Heights community on Monday. The neighborhood outreach site was at Booker T. Washington High School at 4204 Yale Street. Local and elected officials and the Houston Independent School District also contributed to the vaccinate site. Officials said 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered at Booker T. Washington. This vaccination event, organized by Shelia Jackson Lee and UMMC, was different from others because people didn’t have to pre-register.
Shots in little arms: COVID-19 vaccine testing turns to kids
In the U.S. and abroad, researchers are beginning to test younger and younger kids, to make sure the shots are safe and work for each age. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)(AP) – The 9-year-old twins didn’t flinch as each received test doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine -- and then a sparkly bandage to cover the spot. Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work for each age. AdBut younger children may need different doses than teens and adults. Most COVID-19 vaccines being used around the world were first studied in tens of thousands of adults.
Vaccine appointments full after Houston Health Department opens 13,000 slots over the weekend
All rights reserved)Dr Talib Abubacker prepares a does of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sikh temple, on the day the first Vaisakhi Vaccine Clinic is launched, in Luton, England, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department opened 13,070 new COVID-19 vaccination appointment slots on Sunday for the week of March 22-27. The appointments are for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Bayou City Event Center or the first doses of Moderna vaccine at Delmar Stadium and The Parking Spot. All of the Johnson & Johnson appointments had been filled by Monday morning. The department sent appointment invitations to about 80,000 people on its vaccine waitlists with a response rate of approximately 35%.
Dr. Joseph Varon works 366th consecutive day amid pandemic
HOUSTON – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Joseph Varon has become a leading national voice in the fight against the deadly virus. On Saturday, Varon worked his 366th consecutive day at United Memorial Medical Center in North Houston, and he said the pandemic is far from over. Dozens of people from Solid Rock Ministries thanked Dr. Varon and other healthcare workers for their hard work and sacrifice on Saturday. “It was pretty scary, once you can’t breathe and you have double pneumonia that’s really scary,” Hernandez said. Varon said once things get a little better, he plans to take a trip to the beach and get some much-needed sleep.
Texas explains requirements after social media posts suggest vaccine was open to all
HOUSTON – Despite some social media posts, the Texas Division of Emergency Management said certain COVID-19 vaccination events in Liberty and Matagorda counties will not be open to almost anyone. The doses initially went to folks who are homebound, as well as those 65 and older, said TDEM spokesman Seth Christensen. People ages 50 to 64 are part of group 1C in Texas, which is open for vaccination. Also on Thursday, a post on the Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center’s Facebook page discussed a vaccination event at the county fairgrounds scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Christensen said nothing has changed in terms of which population groups have been approved to receive the vaccine.
Phase 1C eligible for vaccine beginning Monday
I’m happy that at least we have this chance to get this vaccine,” said teacher Farha Ahmed. This marks the first time those in the education field were included among the priority groups eligible for the vaccine. About 5,200 people were vaccinated Sunday, according to health officials with Memorial Hermann. The state will expand vaccine eligibility starting Monday for Texans 50 years and older under the 1C phase. People are being more encouraged to get vaccinated,” said Denise Salazar, who said she’s been trying to get vaccinated since January.
Local leaders and health experts urging ‘mask off’ events to be canceled
The new order has Mayor Sylvester Turner and other elected officials worried about “superspreader events,” such as “mask off” parties across the Houston-area. “We are not the dumping ground for events that will put Texans in danger and cause people to lose their lives,” Turner said. AdYet, on Sunday, Turner, along with other health and elected officials, gathered to condemn a local bar and other businesses from hosting “mask off” events. Concrete Cowboy, a bar located on Washington Avenue, is scheduled to have a “mask off” party on Wednesday, the same day the statewide mask order will end. Here is the full presser with local officials and health experts on Sunday, March 7:
Houston reaches grim milestone of 2,000 COVID-19 deaths
FILE - Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. HOUSTON – The city of Houston reached a grim milestone of the weekend. Officials said the death toll for COVID-19 has crossed 2,000 people, only a few days after the one-year anniversary of the first Houston-area COVID-19 case. In addition, he reported nearly 500 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Sunday. Turner did thank business owners and customers that have continued to wear masks, social distance and practice other COVID-19 safety precautions.
Open spaces, no pharmacies: rural US confronts vaccine void
Getting the coronavirus vaccine has been a challenge for rural counties in the U.S. that lack medical facilities such as a pharmacy or a well-equipped doctor's office. AdThe former drug store in Surry County, where about 40% of the residents are Black, is now a café. In January, Surry County officials saw vaccines arrive in other parts of Virginia that had more people or more coronavirus cases. The first clinic in Surry County was held Feb. 6 at the high school in the small town of Dendron. All told, about 1,800 county residents have received at least one dose.
FEMA supersite at NRG Park continues to administer thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses
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. FEMA said many of the technical issues experienced Wednesday were fixed ahead of Thursday’s opening. However, this, whatever is broken here at NRG, needs to be repaired.”According to the woman, workers told her others have experienced similar issues.
What happened? Vaccines nearly ruined in Houston area as winter storm bears down
On Monday, Harris County Public Health came dangerously close to wasting more than 8,400 COVID-19 Moderna vaccines when the power went out and then a backup generator failed. AdTo the public health agency’s credit, in short order in the dead of night in a storm, not a single shot was wasted, according to the county. More than 5,400 of those vaccines were rushed to three hospitals, Rice University and the Harris County Jail. “I could never imagine we were going to go through this.”AdThis week, Harris County sent out messages informing patients their second doses would be rescheduled and that process is starting now. “Just be patient because everybody is going through a hard time.”AdWe asked Harris County Public Health about the cold storage failure and if they planned on making any changes moving forward.
5 things parents should know about the COVID-19 vaccine and kids
HOUSTON – We are your vaccine central for the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates. COVID vaccine trials for teensHouston is one of 20 cities where Moderna vaccine trials for teens are underway. That’s our hope,” said Dr. Stanley Spinner, the Chief Medical Officer for Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care. How could the COVID-19 vaccine impact other vaccines kids may be scheduled to get? “Currently the recommendations are to not have another vaccine two weeks prior to or two weeks after COVID vaccine is given,” said Spinner.
Housing organization empowers underserved residents with COVID-19 information
HOUSTON – A building-by-building, door-to-door effort took place Wednesday to help protect some of the most vulnerable Houstonians from COVID-19. Staff from New Hope Housing continued that effort at an apartment complex on Harrisburg Street tucked between EADO and the Second Ward. New Hope has more than 1500 residents in nine properties across Houston. Staffers have been going to every property to arm all their residents with information to stay healthy and receive the vaccine. “To ensure where they know to get the vaccine, that they’re registered and on lists for vaccines, and they can safely get to and from their appointment to receive the vaccine,” Mangrem said.
More than 60,000 doses sent to vaccine hubs in Houston area this week
HOUSTON – Tens of thousands of additional coronavirus vaccines are headed to the Houston area this week. More than 60,000 doses will be sent to vaccine hubs in the Houston area. The Houston Health Department said nearly 6,400 doses will go to the department’s Area Agency on Aging. City and state leaders came together Saturday to discuss vaccination distribution efforts in high risk and vulnerable communities. AdMayor Sylvester Turner said the city plans to fight racial inequities and disparity by targeting minority communities in vaccine distribution.
Vaccination slots filled at Memorial Hermann’s drive-thru clinic in Sugar Land
SUGAR LAND – UPDATE: Vaccination slots have filled since Memorial Hermann opened 1,000 more slots for vaccinations Friday. ORIGINAL STORY: Thousands of people are expected to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land this week. So why was registration limited to older folks, even though others are also included in Phase 1B? “I do think that our top priority is, based on the data, those older populations that are more at risk for death and severe outcomes,” said Associate Commissioner Imelda Garcia. Memorial Hermann said it plans to work its way through groups of qualified individuals until it’s offered the vaccine to everyone in the phase.
Doctors working hard to make sure vaccine doses don’t go wasted
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A daily push not seen from the outside is the effort hospitals and other medical facilities put forth to make sure the COVID vaccine doesn’t go to waste. The charges were dropped but the question remains: how should doctors respond when no one is available to receive the vaccine? If you have patients no-show in the middle of the day -- no problem -- just move to the next patient. Texas Children’s Hospital told KPRC2 that of the 26,000 doses they’ve given so far only two have gone unused. The medical community says wasted vials are rare -- and they plan to keep it that way.
PVAMU welcomes first COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Waller County
HOUSTON – Prairie View A&M University will host the first COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Waller County. The site is open for those with appointments on Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.“I think we are averaging 90 to 100 folks coming through an hour right now,” said Waller County Judge Trey Duhon. He said the drive-thru operation was planned in about a week and is a result of a collaboration between the county and university. “The university is really vested in making sure that we can do what we can to stop the spread of the virus,” said Tondra Moore, the executive director of health services for Prairie View University. So it’s awesome that we get to come here and put our skills into practice,” said PVU nursing student Keara Avie.
State working to ensure residents receive second vaccine doses available
HOUSTON – Texas health officials assured the public they were working with healthcare providers to make sure second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available in a timely manner. As part of that effort, the state is ensuring healthcare provides are putting in orders for the second dose when the first doses are received. “I’ve made some medical appointments and procedures based on the fact that I thought I have my second vaccine by a certain date,” said Coffey. Some KPRC 2 viewers expressed concern they had not yet received an appointment for their second shot through the city of Houston. “Get the second dose as soon as you can, you don’t have to start it over.
Texas Children’s Hospital begins vaccinating teens with chronic, underlying health conditions
HOUSTON – A major effort is underway by Texas Children’s Hospital to vaccinate young teens and adolescents with chronic and underlying health conditions. It may require advanced critical care,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, the Interim Pediatrician in Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. Hospital leaders with Texas Children’s said they have already identified more than 85,000 patients who would be eligible through their equitable allocation framework and under the State’s 1B plan which includes those 16 and older with chronic and underlying health conditions. AdAs the country’s largest pediatric health care system, leaders with Texas Children’s said it is more important than ever to get the message out. So far, more than 5,500 patients who were eligible have already been vaccinated at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Local health expert discusses concerns surrounding new COVID-19 variants, vaccine effectiveness
But, overall if we can get these vaccines into people arm’s ASAP, we can stop the spread. In South Africa, there is another variant called B.1.351 emerged from B.1.1.7. “If we stop the replication of the virus, we can stop the mutants from forming the new strains. As COVID-19 evolves, there are some concerns about vaccine efficacy and companies are researching the variants. Lall says there need to be more resources for older people when it comes to registering for the vaccine.
‘My face started tingling.’ Houston woman suffers reaction after receiving Moderna vaccine
HOUSTON – Dorinda Beal, 73, received the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 17 at NRG Park in Houston. She said about 14 minutes after being vaccinated she started seeing my adverse effects. “They were concerned because my blood pressure went so high and my heart rate went so high,” said Beal. Since Dec. 29, 2020, nearly 250,000 vaccines have been administered in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. “For perspective, early data showed that approximately one-of-100,000 people that got Pfizer got anaphylactic reactions and one-in-400,000 people in Moderna.
Houston Methodist host free virtual COVID-19 vaccine town hall
HOUSTON – On Friday, Houston Methodist Hospital answered questions about the vaccine rollout during a virtual town hall. Health experts covered a range of topics but wanted to focus on helping educate communities of color about COVID-19. They have programs in the works, that include partnering with minority organizations and churches in to help spread the word about the vaccine. “Really the goal is to bring death down and ultimately control the pandemic,” said Dr. Marc Boom, the president and CEO of Houston Methodist. Arianne Dowdell, VP and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, was the moderator of the town hall.
Veterans over 75 can get vaccinated without appointment at Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center this weekend
More than 10,000 doses have been administered through the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, according to Associate Director Chris Myhaver. “We know that our veterans are very excited about getting the vaccine and our staff is very enthusiastic about getting the vaccine to our veterans,” Myhaver said. However, in an effort to get more veterans vaccinated, the hospital is launching a vaccine clinic on Saturday. AdVeterans 75-years and older can walk into the medical center and get vaccinated without an appointment. The VA is planning to eventually expand the administration of the vaccine beyond the medical center to outpatient clinics in the future.
Galveston County opens COVID-19 vaccine waitlist for high-risk people
HOUSTON – Galveston County and local health partners announced Wednesday a new online waitlist application for those seeking to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not have to be a resident of Galveston County or a UTMB patient to sign up for the waitlist, officials said. “This will be the single portal for people to come on and get in line to get their vaccine.” Dr. Philip Keiser, the Galveston County Local Health Authority said. Galveston County, UTMB Health and the Galveston County Health District continue to follow Texas Department of State Health Services eligibility requirements and are only vaccinating those that fall under Phase 1A, health care workers, and Phase 1B, those 65 and older or 16 and older with certain medical conditions. County leaders believe the on-line vaccine waitlist will help simplify the process to get people vaccinated.
This retired couple talks about the highs, lows of retirement amid COVID-19 pandemic
Michael Jeffcott is playing the hands the pandemic has dealt. The 75-year-old retired from a long career in landscaping two years ago with hopes of traveling nationally and internationally. The retired couple are due to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine shot next week. Jeffcott said while their health precautions won’t change, he hopes their travel plans will by the end of the year. “Traveling around the United States looking for some small towns and quite frankly looking for some dance halls.”
LIST: Here are the Houston-area hospitals receiving COVID-19 vaccine
FILE: A health worker of Rocket Testing, conducts a test at the COVID-19 testing site at the Hawthorn Mall parking lot in Vernon Hills, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. A new drive-up rapid COVID-19 testing facility has opened in Vernon Hills. Rocket Testing, which currently has seven locations in the Chicago area. No appointment is necessary, and test can remain in the car while people wait, according to the Rocket Testing Facebook page. The test takes just minutes, and results are typically available in 15 minutes.
Houston Health Department receives additional 9,000 doses of vaccine; new appointments booked in minutes
HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department said 1,600 new appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine were booked within five minutes on Friday afternoon. These two locations make the vaccine more accessible to all, complementing the health department’s health centers and multi-service centers,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. People who received their first dose of vaccine through the health department will be contacted about scheduling their second dose before the recommended due date. Updated guidance from the CDC says “the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. Visit the vaccine page of HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for the latest information about COVID-19 vaccinations through the Houston Health Department.
Elected officials respond to foreign nationals traveling into Houston for COVID-19 vaccine
HOUSTON – Texas Senator Borris Miles, who is the highest-ranking Democratic member of the State Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, responded to a KPRC investigation into foreign nationals traveling to Houston to get vaccinated. The vaccines should go to the people of the State of Texas,” Miles said. Governor Dan Patrick told KPRC 2 Thursday the system isn’t perfect. Florida is already shutting down what’s been called “vaccine tourism.”“It’s not for people that are just visiting,” said Gov. An approach State Senator Miles is in agreement with.
Texas working to meet vaccine demand while addressing equity concerns
According to Texas’ vaccine dashboard, 27% of vaccine recipients were White compared to 4% African American, 8% Hispanic and 5% Asian. Dark said he understands the initial vaccines going to large healthcare providers because frontline healthcare workers were the first priority. State health officials maintain the biggest issue is the supply. We’re hearing it from all quarters,” said Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services. State health officials estimate approximately 10 million Texans fall into the 1A and 1B phases of the vaccine rollout.
Attorney for doctor accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccine says DA investigation false, client was following CDC, health guidelines
The attorney of a Harris County Public Health doctor held a news conference Friday to address the allegations accusing him of stealing a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg in a news release Thursday. The release said that a week later, he told a fellow Harris County Public Health employee, who then reported him to supervisors. According to Doyle, Gokal had been administering vaccines and overseeing a vaccination site on Dec. 29. A Harris County Public Health adminstrator stated that there are protocols in place to deal with unused vaccines and open vials, and those protocols were not followed. He is being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
COVID-19 vaccine goes to waste
Vaccine provider suspended by Ohio Department of Health after failing to monitor the temperature at which COVID-19 vaccine was held, resulting in the loss of hundreds of doses. (NBC NEWS) – A Columbus vaccine provider was suspended by the Ohio Department of Health, accused of failing to monitor the temperature at which COVID-19 vaccine doses were held. According to the Ohio Department of Health, SpecialtyRX, a vaccine provider in Columbus, was given 1,500 vaccines to vaccinate residents at eight long-term care facilities before the new year. The health department requires all COVID-19 vaccine providers to check and record minimum and maximum temperatures of refrigerators and freezers each workday. “If you deviate from those storage conditions, you essentially have to waste the product,” said Dr. Zach Jenkins, an infectious disease expert and associated professor of pharmacy at Cedarville University.
Local hospital provides COVID-19 vaccine to those over 75
HOUSTON – Some of the most vulnerable people in the community received the COVID-19 vaccine in Baytown on Friday. She’s one of the dozens of seniors to get the shot at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital. Baytown is one of four vaccine sites for Houston Methodist. On Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said so-called vaccine hubs are on the way, but didn’t offer many details. “It’s really refreshing that people believe in science and people want to be protected against this disease,” said Dr. Shawn Tittle, chief medical officer at the Baytown hospital.
Texans in Groups 1A, 1B still having trouble getting COVID-19 vaccine
HOUSTON – Less than 1% of Texans have received a COVID-19 vaccination since doses began to roll out across southeast Texas. “I have no idea,” was a common response by people young and old at a national chain Baytown pharmacy, Friday. Right now, the Texas Department of State Health Services is generally following CDC guidance. Battiste is not in Groups 1A or 1B but is a truck driver. Start here to see who in your family qualifies for the vaccine at the moment:From that point, call.
Health officials to open vaccination hubs across Texas
TEXAS CITY, Texas – On Thursday, the Galveston County Health District began vaccinating people who were 65 years and older. The Galveston County Health District said there are 21,611 positive cases, 5,251 are active and 193 people have died. The Texas Department of State Health Services said it’s working on vaccination hubs across the state. Large and small sites around Texas will receive a total of about 200,000 doses of vaccine next week. People can find more information on COVID-19 vaccine and its availability at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine.aspx.