By Shanna Cummings
Thanks to the hard work by health department nurses, local agencies and volunteers, over 228 Van Horn residents and regional visitors received the first of two COVID vaccines on Saturday. The clinic for the second dose will take place on April 3.
The county was allocated 300 Moderna vaccines for Saturday’s clinic at the Fire-Med training center. Vaccines were also offered last Friday at Culberson County Hospital. According to the county’s assistant emergency management coordinator Cody Davis, 114 registered for the vaccine. Those who registered received an email from Davis later with the clinic announcement and their approval for the vaccine.
On Saturday, Culberson County residents lined up outside the Fire-Med training center, while another line formed for the growing number of regional visitors hoping for vaccines after the 10:30 a.m. cutoff for county residents.
“Since we didn’t have all doses allocated, we just opened up to everybody” within the vaccine’s approved age range, Davis explained. The remainder of the vaccines returned to the DSHS office in Marfa and were used the next day.
Receiving the vaccine once inside the clinic took only minutes, directed by volunteers who helped fill out paperwork and directed people to nurses for injection. After receiving the injection, people were asked to remain at the center for 15 minutes in case of adverse reactions and to get in some post-injection arm movements to prevent or lessen soreness in the injection arm. Each person received a round of applause as they returned to daily life.
“Whenever anyone leaves, we give them a round of applause, because they’re that much healthier,” said Van Horn councilwoman Karolyne Carloss, who led in the YMCA, the wave, anything to get arms in the air.
The clinic will return on April 3 for the second and final dose. It is important that those who received the first dose return for the second dose, then wait two weeks for full vaccination effects. Even after vaccination, people are urged to continue wearing a mask in public, practicing social distancing and washing hands frequently.
The April 3 clinic will provide only the second dose, not the first. Clinic organizers receive little notice when first doses are available. Announcements for the next first dose clinic will be made on social media and in the newspaper. Those looking for available vaccination sites in west Texas, as well as pre-registration and other information can go to the Rio Grande Council of Governments (RioCOG) webpage www.riocog.org and click on the COVID tab.
A QR code in the vaccine paperwork allows vaccine recipients to sign up for the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) V-Safe smartphone-based post-vaccination side effect survey that monitors the type, severity and duration of side effects. Most common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These are all indications of one’s body building up immunity to the virus, and subside in a day or two.
The V-Safe daily survey takes moments to complete, and includes a reminder when it’s time for the second dose. The first week includes daily check-ins, and then once per week after that for a total of five weeks. Participants can opt out at any time.
“It’s been a concerted effort for quite a while in the region,” Peggy O’Brien of RioCOG said of the vaccination clinic. “Probably since the vaccine has been available. We’re just trying to get as much as we possibly can here and get the word out. And it’s been a collaborative effort.” Volunteers and representatives from Culberson County hospital, local government, law enforcement as well as nurses from the State Health Department and others helped pull together the clinic at a moment’s notice. Timing of vaccination clinics depends on when batches of vaccines become available, and how quickly local governments and agencies can organize the details.
Pecos has opened up for vaccines as well, O’Brien said. “And people are going as far as Midland, too. And in Midland you don’t even have to be in a category; you can just get vaccinated. People are traveling to get it.”