UPDATE: UT Health East Texas opens COVID-19 vaccinations to high-risk individuals

by Staff reports

UPDATED at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, 2020:

UT Health East Texas has filled all available appointments for COVID-19 vaccines designated for high-risk members of the public, according to officials.

“We had an overwhelming response to the availability of the vaccine, which allowed us to fill all slots,” said Dr. Tom Cummins, chief medical officer for UT Health East Texas. “We hope the state will see the great interest by the community and allocate us additional vaccine soon.”

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TYLER — UT Health East Texas on Monday will begin providing free COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk members of the public, distributed by appointment only.

Vaccines will be given at UT Health North Campus Tyler, 11937 U.S. Highway 271. Appointment time slots are available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Anyone wanting a vaccine must have an appointment; vaccines for walk-ins will not be available, according to a release.

There is no charge for the vaccine, but residents are asked to bring their insurance card to their appointment. During the appointment, residents will be registered, vaccinated and monitored for 15 minutes, during which time a second appointment will be scheduled. The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses, 28 days apart.

The vaccine will be available to those who meet the Texas Department of State Health Services criteria for Phase 1A or 1B of the state’s vaccine allocation plan, the release noted. Phase 1A includes healthcare workers, first and last responders and residents of long-term care facilities; Phase 1B includes those 65 and older and those 18 and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Individuals who meet the criteria for Phase 1A and 1B can make an appointment online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/UT

UT Health is the only healthcare system in East Texas selected by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a mass vaccine location. UT Health is slated to receive 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine that will be given on an appointment only, first-come, first-served basis.

“We take our role in vaccinating the public very seriously to help bring this virus under control. It continues to spread rapidly in our communities, so the sooner we can get people vaccinated the better,” said Dr. Tom Cummins, chief medical officer for UTHET. “Our caregivers are seeing the devastation of this virus every single day. We are seeing record numbers of people in our hospitals with COVID-19, so it is still extremely important for all East Texans to continue to do the things we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the pandemic — wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. We know these things work to slow the spread of the virus.”