GATESVILLE, Texas — Coryell Health vaccinated nearly 1,000 people during a mass vaccination clinic Saturday. The county was designated a COVID-19 vaccination hub earlier this week.
The county opted to host a drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Gatesville Civic Center to ensure the safety of both volunteers and vaccine recipients.
"I'm so relieved and so excited because I teach school and am surrounded by children all day," Teresa Garrett, a vaccine recipient said. "I wanted to have an extra layer of security besides a mask."
Coryell County received 975 doses of the vaccine from the state. Coryell Health officials said their goal was to give out every available dose during the clinic.
"We were at first seeing a lot of allocation going to a lot of the larger cities and our patients weren't able to get the vaccine," Coryell County Health Authority Dana Wuenschel said. "So we're excited to hopefully start moving toward our normal again."
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 25,149 people in Coryell County are under Phase 1B. So far, the state reports Coryell has administered only 1,722 doses.
There was some doubt as to whether Coryell County would become a vaccination hub. In recent weeks, county health officials saw both McLennan and Bell County receive thousands of doses of the vaccine while they saw little to none.
"I was just excited that here in our small county we were able to become a vaccination hub and do this for our community," Wuenschel said.
Before Saturday, Coryell County had vaccinated just over six percent of its eligible population. By comparison, Bell and McLennan were each over 10 percent.
Once they learned they would become a vaccination hub, county leaders debated where to put the clinic. The group eventually decided to place it outside the Gatesville Civic Center.
They were able to give the vaccine to people inside their cars.
"We've been doing this for testing at our clinic and we've been doing outside car visits at our clinic as well," Wuenschel said.
The county gave out the vaccine by appointment only. As has been the case across the state, appointments filled up within minutes.
Those who got appointments were in and out Saturday within 30 minutes.
"I thought this was amazing. It was very well set up, well organized," Garrett said. "The only problem I had was making the appointment in the beginning."
Leaders with Coryell Health say they expect to receive another large shipment of the vaccine next week. When that batch arrives, they will post details on how to schedule an appointment on their web site.