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Health experts say they are prepared if weather forces COVID-19 vaccine clinics to remain closed

Posted at 10:13 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 00:27:49-05

WACO, Texas — Vaccination clinics across Central Texas closed their doors Thursday because of a blast of winter weather.

The clinic operated by the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District closed at 1 p.m. Thursday, while clinics in Temple and Killeen closed at 2 p.m. Bell County clinics will remain closed on Friday, while the clinic in McLennan County will re-open at 11 a.m. Friday.

"We were getting calls of people trying to reschedule anyway, so it was a decision that it was better all around if we just closed the clinic today," Waco-McLennan County Health District spokesperson Kelly Craine said.

Canceled appointments will be rescheduled as follows:

McLennan County

  • All Thursday afternoon appointments may come to the clinic on Friday or Saturday at the same time as their originally scheduled appointment.
  • Anyone with an appointment before 11 a.m. Friday morning may arrive at the clinic any time after 11 a.m.

Bell County

  • Those with appointments scheduled for Friday at the Sammons Community Center in Temple have been automatically moved to the same time Thursday, February 18.
  • Anyone with appointments at the Rosa Hereford Killeen Community Center will now receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, February 17, at the same time as their original appointment.

"Any appointment that was impacted by the weather closures has automatically been rescheduled," Bell County spokesperson James Stafford said.

But with winter weather expected to continue through the weekend, Bell County officials are working to ensure the vaccine does not go to waste if clinics are forced to remain closed.

Bell County is currently distributing doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is only good for five days once it is thawed. Stafford told 25 News the county has less than one day's worth of vaccine thawed out. That must all be distributed by Monday.

"The first question that was asked was how many doses do we currently have in a refrigerator and when do we have to get them in arms," Stafford said. "That's the first priority."

Health officials are working to reschedule appointments quickly, but if any vaccine remains, they have a backup plan.

"The vaccines that are already in a refrigerator right now that we would need to utilize by Monday, we already have a plan for distributing them to a group of 1A recipients we can mobilize quickly," Stafford said.

The winter weather is less of a problem to the north in McLennan County. There, the district is distributing doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has a shelf life of 30 days after thawing out.

As a result, they can shut down for a week due to weather without losing any doses of the vaccine.

They plan to simply increase the number of doses given out per day to match the increased need.

"We were doing about 98 clients per hour and expanded that to 138 per hour," Craine said. "So we're gonna push it even further, but we can still handle that."

So far, Bell County has been allotted 49,450 doses of the vaccine, while McLennan County has only received 34,950 doses from the state, according to Texas DSHS.