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Vaccine slow to arrive in small Central Texas county

San Saba was one of the last counties in the state in which a resident tested positive for the...
San Saba was one of the last counties in the state in which a resident tested positive for the virus, and officials are worried that’s put the county far down on the list to receive the vaccine.(Megan Vanselow)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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SAN SABA COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) – About 50 residents had received the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday in San Saba County, which lags behind other comparably sized Central Texas counties in the number of doses administered.

San Saba was one of the last counties in the state in which a resident tested positive for the virus, and officials are worried that’s put the county far down on the list to receive the vaccine.

“We’re being told February, but we don’t know which vaccine it’ll be,” the pharmacy manager at Everett’s Pharmacy, Joseph DeBons, says.

The county got a call from the Department of State Health Services last Thursday, asking if the county could set up a clinic to administer 50 vaccinations the following Tuesday.

Forty eight county residents in the Phase 1A group, which includes frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff members of long-term care facilities, were vaccinated, including some law enforcement personnel and hospice nurses.

But for everyone else it’s been a waiting game.

The local Baylor Scott & White clinic made its request months ago, but relocated to a different office in the county.

Local Health Authority Dr. Greg Whiting says the freezers for the vaccine need to be monitored for a few weeks before they can get the vaccine.

Whiting says he’s hopeful the doses requested by the local nursing home through the CVS partnership will arrive as early as this weekend.

While they wait, DeBons says his staff and the rest of the county are learning.

He says he’s in contact with other pharmacies to find out what is and isn’t working.

“The pharmacies that got the vaccine real early made some errors, but I think we can be prepared,” he said.

He’s having his staff go through the required training to be able to administer the vaccine when they get it.

“All technicians are getting trained... so when it gets here we can roll it out in an orderly fashion.”

But administering the vaccine poses its own challenge.

DeBons says there’s a waiting list so long he could use his entire staff for nothing but administering vaccinations, which would leave no one to take care of day-to-day business at the pharmacy.

“We have a backup staff we can bring in because we will always fill prescriptions, we won’t let that stop us,” DeBons said.

“It may be late that we’re getting it in February, later than others, but it gives us more time to prepare.”

San Saba County had 370 confirmed and 101 probable cases Wednesday, according to state data, which showed at least 396 patients have recovered and 15 have died.

Cases in the county only started rising in the last few months, but DeBons says it’s been helpful that they’re in such a small community to help those who are sick recover safely.

“Being in a small community we are at a huge advantage because we know the patients, we recognize that hey these are COVID prescriptions we’re getting, and we have a girl that will just deliver it to their door so they don’t even have to leave their house.”

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