Vaccines on the way, are they safe?

HOUSTON – Texans may soon start breathing some cautious sighs of relief as the first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine, which includes 224,250 doses to 109 Texas hospitals in 34 counties, are set to arrive on Dec. 14, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Those amounts are barely enough to scratch the surface, with 30 million people in the state of Texas alone, so who will be among the selected to receive the first shots, and many are wondering if they are safe to take.

State officials have decided that health care workers will be vaccinated first, followed by nursing home staffers, emergency medical service drivers, paramedics and home health aides workers in an effort to “protect those caring for COVID-19 patients and preserve the health care system’s ability to function.”

“The State of Texas is already prepared for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and will swiftly distribute these vaccines to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a release. “As we await the first shipment of these vaccines, we will work with communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The vaccine will be spread across 21 hospitals in Harris County, four in Montgomery County, one in Galveston County and one in Fort Bend County. Larger allotments are expected in January and in the following months.

But many are apprehensive to take the immunizations, especially Black Americans, still exhibiting mistrust and distrust developed from the infamous Tuskegee Experiment.

The head of the U.S. vaccine development effort, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, said he believes the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and could have long-lasting effect.

Slaoui told CNN’s “State of the Union” that only time will tell for certain, but that in his opinion, the vaccine’s effectiveness could last for “many, many years,” with older people and others who are more vulnerable requiring a booster every three to five years.

Slaoui also said that one of the hallmarks of immune systems is memory, so the body’s response to the coronavirus will be much faster once vaccinated, adding that it’s still unknown if vaccinated persons could spread the virus to others, and we may have to wait until February or March to find out.

With that in mind, people are reminded to continue to take safeguards and follow safety guidelines in order to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.

Slaoui said once 70 to 80% of the population is vaccinated, “the virus will go down.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The United States has more than 14 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 281,000 deaths.  Worldwide, there are more than 66 million confirmed cases with more than 1.5 million deaths.

After a devastatingly painful year 2020 – we may have hope on the horizon and could be approaching “the beginning” of “the end” of the pandemic.

Local hospitals to receive vaccines:

Harris County:

  • Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital: 1,950
  • Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital: 975
  • Lukes Hospital at The Vintage: 975
  • Texas Children’s Hospital (Main campus): 3,900
  • HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest: 1,950
  • Texas Children’s Hospital (West Campus): 975
  • UT MD Anderson Cancer Center: 4,875
  • LBJ Hospital – Harris County Hospital District: 1,950
  • Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center: 5,850
  • Memorial Hermann Greater Heights: 1,950
  • Memorial Hermann SE Hospital: 1,950
  • Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center: 2,925
  • Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital: 975
  • Ben Taub General Hospital: 1,950
  • Houston Methodist West Hospital: 975
  • Houston Methodist Hospital: 5,850
  • CHI St. Lukes Health: 5,850
  • Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital: 975
  • Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital: 975
  • HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast: 975
  • University of Texas Medical Branch – Clear Lake: 975
  • Montgomery County (Total: 4,875 doses)
  • Texas Children’s Hospital Woodlands: 975
  • Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital: 975
  • Kingwood Medical Center: 975
  • Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital: 1,950

Fort Bend County:

  • Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital: 1,950

Galveston County:

  • University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital: 2,925

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